Varroa mite eradication close to completed, says DPI
Eradication of the varroa mite which attacks honey bees is close to complete, according to the NSW Department of Primary Industries.
Deputy chief plant protection officer Mr Chris Anderson said the department had completed euthanasia on more than 95 per cent of the managed hives within the eradication zone.
"However, there are some reports of managed hives within the zone still coming through," he said.
The department was "narrowing in on the completion of euthanasia for managed hives across the varroa mite eradication zone".
He urged any beekeepers who had not yet notified the department of their hives to do so urgently.
"To be this close to the completion of the euthanasia phase of the response is a significant achievement that's required an enormous effort, cooperation and collaboration between the response teams and the beekeepers in these areas.
"It has been a complex and difficult task for all involved and we appreciate the patience and understanding of beekeepers as we've worked through this difficult task", he said.
"To ensure we can ultimately achieve the goal to fully eradicate the mite, it is critical we have certainty that we have eradicated all hives within the red zone.
"To achieve this, we need to know the hives exist and where they are."
The varroa mite eradication zone covers a 10km radius area around infected premises.
It extends as far as Koolewong, but the Peninsula falls outside the zone.
Beekeepers with hives within the zone must notify the department of their location, regardless of registration status.
"Given the population density of some areas of the zone on the Central Coast, the risk of the infestation spreading is higher than in less populated locations.
"What we know about the how the varroa mite can spread is that the risk cannot be underestimated", Mr Anderson said.
"This is why we have asked all beekeepers, both registered and unregistered in the eradication and surveillance zones, to notify us of current hives and locations via the notification form so that we can be acting on the most up-to-date data as possible.
"This is also the only way we can be aware of any unregistered hives."
The entire Peninsula falls within the "surveillance" zone.
People with bee hives located within the eradication or surveillance emergency zones can notify the department by calling 1800 084 881 or completing the form on this website: https://forms.bfs.dpi.nsw.gov.au/forms/9247.
The Australian Native Bee Association has launched a "rescue effort" as the department enters its final eradication phase.
"The department has advised hive owners to move their stingless bees out of the red zone eradication areas," said Dr Anne Dollin of the Australian Native Bee Research Centre last week.
"They are using Fipronil, a highly toxic pesticide, to destroy nests of feral European honeybees in varroa-infested areas.
"Unfortunately, our native bees, especially stingless bees, could be poisoned by this work.
"Native bee owners need to consider moving their hives now because Fipronil baiting is either already underway or about to begin in the red zone areas."
The association's rescue effort aims to assist hive owners who do not have a safe place to take their hives.
Further information is available on the association's website at https://www.anba.org.au/varroa-response and requests for assistance may be sent to email@example.com.
Media release, 4 Nov 2022
Chris Anderson, NSW DPI
Newsletter, 10 Nov 2022
Anne Dollin, ANBRC