Mites, bees, and plagues that are and might be.
The eastwards spread of the ectoparasitic mites Varroa jacobsoni and Tropilaelaps clareae and the Asian hive bee (Apis cerana, the natural host of V. jacobsoni) from Irian Jaya is threatening Papua New Guinea's honey industry (based on A. mellifera). The history, life cycles, biology, injuriousness, distributions and prospects for control of the bees and these natural enemies are discussed and illustrated. The implications for quarantine in Australia should A. cerana and the 2 mites reach that country are discussed, with special reference to the threat to the honey industry and bees as pollinators. Options that have been presented to the authorities in Papua New Guinea and Irian Jaya for eradicating T. clareae are discussed, and the establishment of a trial there is reported.<new para>ADDITIONAL ABSTRACT:<new para>The successful beekeeping industry in the highlands of Papua New Guinea (PNG) based on Apis mellifera has been threatened by the introduction of the mite Varroa jacobsoni and its natural host Apis cerana, and the mite Tropilaelaps clareae. This article reviews recent research showing that in PNG V. jacobsoni does not reproduce in A. mellifera colonies, and T. clareae does not infest colonies of A. cerana. It details the distribution of mite and honey bee species in PNG and neighbouring Irian Jaya, and proposes strategies for eradicating T. clareae from the island of New Guinea.