Beekeepers called on to ramp up self surveillance

15 Sep 2022

State-wide surveillance will be strengthened to ensure NSW beekeepers have greater flexibility to continue their operations, through a new Varroa Mite Emergency Order, effective today.

Minister for Agriculture Dugald Saunders said changes to the Emergency Order will increase the surveillance registered beekeepers are required to conduct each year.

“Registered beekeepers across NSW have shown strong support for the eradication of Varroa mite after it was detected by the NSW Government’s sentinel hives near the Port of Newcastle in June,” Mr Saunders said.

“The latest changes require beekeepers to alcohol wash a portion of their hives at least every 16 weeks, and to report the results to NSW Department of Primary Industries.

“The surveillance undertaken as part of the Varroa response, combined with the surveillance as hives moved to pollination, help provide greater confidence about the extent of the current incursion.

“That means we can give beekeepers the flexibility they need to continue essential business operations while still maintaining strong biosecurity protocols to ensure we stay on top of this destructive pest.”

The new Order also allows registered commercial beekeepers in the blue general emergency zone to move or sell queens (and escort bees), or queen cells, to another registered beekeeper, within the blue general zone or the purple surveillance emergency zone.

Queen breeders must complete training, comply with alcohol wash requirements, and keep records of sales.

Another change will allow beekeepers in red eradication zones to manage swarming by returning extracted honey supers immediately to the hive from which they were removed after honey extraction.

“We are committed to working with industry and the community to eradicate Varroa mite in NSW, while doing so in a way that allows industry to continue normal operations where it is safe to do so,” Mr Saunders said.

Beekeepers can report results of alcohol washes to NSW DPI by calling 1800 084 881 or via the online form at  www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/alcohol-wash, and more information about the Varroa mite response is available from www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/varroa.

Media contact: Sally Taylor 0428 149 401