Norfolk Island Bee Pest & Disease Survey

18 November 2021

Norfolk Island has one of the world’s healthiest honey bee populations. From December 3 to 16, I (Dr John Roberts) will be on island to work with local bee keepers to run a bee pest and disease survey. This survey will help protect Norfolk Island’s healthy status and raise awareness for bee biosecurity on the island. The survey is funded by the Australian Government, through the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, and Regional Development.

I am a honey bee pest and disease expert working at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO). My visit will involve inspecting hives with beekeepers and collecting samples to test for bee pests and diseases, as well as running a health check on hives.

During my visit, I will run an information session for interested beekeepers and biosecurity staff on bee biosecurity on what we are looking out for, and how to check for them, as well as learning from beekeepers and biosecurity staff about their work and observations. The timing of this information session is yet to be confirmed, but if you are interested in attending, please email me. I will also be available to discuss the survey and my work with any interested community members. I will advertise community events in the Norfolk Islander.

To make the survey successful, I am interested in surveying hives from as many beekeepers as possible. This will involve me inspecting and sampling hives using the following methods:

Hive/brood inspection: general check for pests like small hive beetle and diseased brood (AFB, EFB and Chalkbrood), and uncapping brood to check for Varroa and Tropilaelaps mites.

Sugar-shake: collect 300 adult bees from each hive and coat them in icing sugar to dislodge and detect any mites. Sugar-shaked bees will be kept for tracheal mite and bee virus testing at CSIRO.

Beetle traps: Traps designed for small hive beetle will be placed in hives for several days then inspected. These traps use vegetable oil or diatomaceous earth to kill any beetles without harming the bees or contaminating honey.

Honey and pollen sample: collect a small sample of honey and pollen for testing at CSIRO for brood diseases. Using DNA testing we can detect brood diseases even when there is no visible disease in the hive.

I will also do floral sweep netting around Norfolk Island entry ports to look for Asian honey bees.

If you would like further information about the target pests and diseases, please visit Beeaware:

Please let me know if you would like to help with the survey or have any questions. You can also contact the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications phone contact: 23315 or

Dr John Roberts, CSIRO Black Mountain ACT,, +61421523396