A pest and disease survey of the isolated Norfolk Island honey bee (Apis mellifera) population

Norfolk Island is one of Australia’s most remote communities, located about 1,400 km east of the mainland. This report is the first documented survey of pests and diseases affecting the honey bee (Apis mellifera L.) population on Norfolk Island. The only invertebrate pest detected during the survey was the lesser wax moth (Achroia grisella), and only one honey bee virus was identified (Lake Sinai virus 1). The microsporidian parasite Nosema ceranae was also detected in the majority of adult bee samples, but Nosema apis was not present in any of the samples analyzed. Given that honey bee imports to Norfolk Island ceased in 1992, we discuss possible scenarios for N. ceranae introduction to the island. Lineage analysis also determined that Norfolk Island’s honey bees are for the most part from Eastern Europe (probably A. m. ligustica and A. m. carnica) with a small percentage from Western Europe (probably A. m. mellifera). This survey has identified a remote and isolated honey bee population that is relatively free from major pests and diseases that affect honey bees around the world. This knowledge will help inform trade policy and management strategies for maintaining the unique health status of honey bees on Norfolk Island.