In a worrying sign, the NSW Department of Primary Industries (NSW DPI) has established another emergency zone south of Newcastle in response to confirmed detections of Varroa mite.
It comes as Shooters Fishers and Farmers MLC Mark Banasiak called on the government to compensate local beekeepers.
“There is growing concern within beekeeping communities that hives with Varroa mites are not being destroyed due to the enormous financial impact it will have,” he said.
“Compensation will incentivise those beekeepers to come forward and contact the NSW DPI, who will then destroy the hive and contain the spread of the mite.
“Varroa mite is a considerable biosecurity risk, bees pollinate $15b worth of agriculture output a year in Australia, and New South Wales is the largest beekeeping state.
“Beekeepers need to know the government has their back.
“Compensation will show that and incentivise those beekeepers with varroa mite to come forward.”
Meanwhile, NSW DPI acting chief plant protection officer Chris Anderson said the organsation had now established emergency zones around nine infested premises, including the new zone around a Calga property south of Newcastle which became effective.
“The DPI has put significant measures in place to arrest the spread of the threat and is being assisted by the apiary industry, Local Land Services (LLS), NSW Police, NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) and the wider community,” he explained.
“Since Varroa mite was first identified at the Port of Newcastle last week, NSW DPI has been working with apiary industry bodies and stakeholders to ensure beekeepers are informed and empowered to be part of this critical response.
“So far many of the infested premises have been located very close together, so the emergency zones covered largely the same areas but recent detections at Bulahdelah and Calga have expanded the area covered.”
No bees or beekeeping equipment can be moved anywhere in NSW, and no honey or honeycomb removed from hives.
Hives must not be touched unless conducting surveillance for Varroa mite or at the direction of an NSW DPI officer.
Beekeepers within 50km of infested premises must also notify NSW DPI of the location of all bees by calling the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline, 1800 084 881, visiting www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/varroa or emailing [email protected]
Eradication plans include destruction of honeybee colonies within a 10km eradication zone around infested sites and inspection of managed honeybee colonies within a 25km surveillance zone.
Feral honeybee hives will be eradicated from the eradiation and surveillance zones.
Beekeepers work side-by-side with government as part of Australia’s early warning system to detect exotic honeybee pests, the National Bee Pest Surveillance Program, which includes surveillance hives and catch boxes at strategic locations around our ports and airports.
More information is available from NSW DPI at www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/varroa