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Hawkesbury beekeepers allowed to work hives as DPI keeps an eye on varroa mite in red zones

Jul 9, 2022


Hawkesbury beekeepers are now allowed to work their hives, remove frames for honey extraction and place empty supers on full hives, as the Department of Primary Industries slightly loosens varroa mite rules in areas which so far don’t have the destructive bug.


So far no varroa mites have been detected in Hawkesbury-based European honeybee hives, after being found in Newcastle, and our region is not in the red zone where up to today – Monday – 1567 hives had been euthanised, with more than 15 million bees destroyed.


The NSW DPI amended the statewide emergency order on Sunday to allow NSW beekeepers, in all zones except the red eradication zone, to work their hives – that includes the Hawkesbury, which is not in the Newcastle-centred red zone.


And on Saturday, the DPI extended its special permit for flood-impacted beekeepers by a further 7 days, until midnight on Monday July 17. This has allowed beekeepers to move their hives above any flood waters.


NSW DPI Deputy Chief Plant Protection Officer, Kathy Gott, said the loosening of restrictions on working the hives is positive news for beekeepers after varroa mite was detected at the Port of Newcastle on June 22.


“We are committed to working with industry and the community to eradicate varroa mite in NSW,” Dr Gott said.


“Working with beekeepers across the state, the measures we have put in place have proven to be effective in slowing down this threatening incursion.”


The changes do not apply to beekeepers who are in the red eradication zone and do not permit the movement of hives, brood boxes, nucleus hives, packaged bees and queen bees anywhere in NSW.


Danny Le Feuvre from the Australian Honey Bee Industry Council welcomed the latest changes to the emergency order.


“The removal of the ‘do not tamper’ component in the order is important to ensure beekeepers can manage their hives,” Mr Le Feuvre said.


“This decision is a measured risk-based approach and will allow beekeepers to prevent swarming as we get closer to spring.


“It is important we balance the risk of spread and business continuity for the rest of the state.”


NSW DPI, Acting Chief Plant Protection Officer, Chris Anderson, said, “NSW DPI is confident that the eradication of Varroa mite is both technically feasible and economically beneficial.

“We remain committed to working with industry to undertake extensive surveillance to find and destroy any further infested honeybees.


“NSW DPI is not concerned about Varroa mite spreading through flood waters. However, the severe weather is impacting the ability of our field crews to access some locations where hives are located.


“That’s why, we are permitting beekeepers, whose honeybee hives may be submerged by flood water caused by heavy rainfall, to move them.”


Beekeepers are advised to run an alcohol wash test on their bees and report results to NSW DPI by calling 1800 084 881.


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