NSW Police and NSW DPI investigate cases of diseased and stolen beehives

NSW Police and NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) regulatory officers are investigating a number of significant offences relating to diseased and stolen bee hives in State forests near Batemans Bay.

In total, more than 300 bee hives infected with American Foul Brood, a bacterial disease that kills developing bee larvae in the hive, have been destroyed recently under the direction of NSW DPI apiary inspectors to minimise the risk of spread of the disease to other healthy hives located in apiary sites in the forests.

American Foul Brood is a bacteria that only affects bee larvae. It poses no threat to human health.

Forestry Corporation staff are assisting with destruction and disposal of the infected material.

NSW DPI Manager of Animal and Plant Regulatory Operations Dr Andrew Sanger said that a prompt whole-of-agency response and decisive action in dealing with this case had helped to protect the State’s valuable beekeeping industry.

‘Theft is a serious problem in the beekeeping industry, not only because of the economic loss and inconvenience to the owners, but also because of the risk of spread of disease,’ he said.

‘Beekeepers are required to promptly notify NSW DPI of cases of American Foul Brood in their hives.’

A beekeeper from the southern tablelands has been interviewed by NSW DPI officers and may be prosecuted for failing to notify DPI of the disease within his hives.

Beekeepers who are found guilty of this offence may be fined up to $2200.

Dr Sanger said spotted gums were flowering very well this year on the south coast, and many beekeepers had taken advantage of the good conditions for honey production by moving their hives into Forestry Corporation apiary sites.

A number of the infected hives had previously been reported as stolen, and NSW Police Rural Crime Investigators are expecting to interview a number people in relation to these thefts.

NSW Police Assistant Commissioner Steve Bradshaw has urged all beekeepers to regularly monitor their hives and promptly report any stolen hives to NSW Police.

‘This will greatly assist the Rural Crime Investigation Unit to solve these crimes and hopefully remove maverick beekeepers from the industry,’ Mr Bradshaw said.

Media contact: DPI Media Officer Sarah Chester on (02) 6036 2110 or 0417 207 669 or Monaro Rural Crime Investigation Unit on (02) 6298 0581 or 0427 993 314.