Varroa frequently asked questions

Emergency Order in place

The current Emergency Order outlines what a beekeeper is permitted to do in the red eradicaiton, purple notification or blue general emergency zones.

What can I do in the red eradication zone?

You must tell NSW DPI the location of your hives;

  • by telephone to the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline on 1800 084 881,
  • or by using the online form.

This includes reporting the location of any feral hives in a red eradication zone.

You must not move your bees or hives into, or out of, or within the Eradication Zone. This includes queen bees in cages and packaged bees.

Any bees and any hive must be made available for euthanasia and disposal by an authorised officer.

You can't work your hives unless you are;

  • Doing a sugar shake, alcohol wash or brood uncapping to check for Varroa Mite.
  • Managing a queenless, AFB or small hive beetle infested hive by sealing the entrance to the hive, euthanising the bees with petrol and wrapping the hive so it is bee proof, and leaving the hive for 21 days.
  • Managing a deadout hive, which must be sealed and wrapped so it is bee proof and left for 21 days.
  • Preventing swarming by adding an empty super to your hive.
    • This can happen only if your premises is not an infected or suspect premises.
    • The empty super must have been kept in a bee proof space and had no contact with bees for the 21 days prior to movement.
    • Once the super is moved to an apiary site, it must stay there, unless it is to be moved to extract honey (clear of bees, wrapped and covered during transport) or kept without bees for 21 days prior to removal.

You can move a honey super to an enclosed, bee-proof space to extract honey. This must be within the same zone. Take practicable measures to remove all bees from the honey super. The brood box or any part of the brood box must NOT be moved. The extracted honey must be stored in a bee proof container.

Transport must be by the most direct route, and not pass through another coloured zone. The honey super must be bee proof prior to moving. The honey super must be sealed until it reaches the bee-proof space. Honey supers must remain in a bee proof state the whole time. Vehicle decontamination requirements must be carried out before and after transportation. You must comply with vehicle decontamination requirements before and after transportation. Ensure clothing is free from bees upon completion. This is the same for flow hives.

Honey supers can be returned to the hive it came from, but cannot be placed on another hive until they have been:

  1. stored in a bee-proof manner for 21 days, or
  2. stored in cold storage at -15 degrees Celsius for 72 hours.

Honey supers can be reused.

An empty super can be returned to the hive it came from,

OR

An empty super can be moved anywhere within the eradication zone if it has been;

  1. Stored in a bee proof manner for 21 days, or
  2. Stored in cold storage at –15 degrees celsius for 72 hours.

Do not move apiary equipment into or out of this zone. You must decontaminate the apiary equipment before leaving the apiary.

You must wash any clothes or bee suits that contact apiary equipment, hives or bees by washing them with detergent and hot water (at least 60 degrees Celsius for 20 minutes) or freezing the clothes in a freezer for at least 24 hours.

Decontamination means;

  1. scraping and cleaning any hive material that has leaked from the honey super or apiary equipment,
  2. placing that material into disposable garbage bag which must be sealed so the contents of the bag do not come into contact with bees for 21 days,
  3. washing surfaces of the vehicle with warm, soapy water to remove honey and apiary product, and
  4. after 21 days, disposing of the hive material, in the manner and location directed by an authorised officer.

If you (including pest controllers) see a colony of feral bees, you must tell NSW DPI where they are:

  • by telephone to the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline on 1800 084 881, or
  • by electronic transmission, using the online form

If you are a registered beekeeper or a pest controller, you can euthanise a feral swarm. Swarms must not be kept in this Zone.

Only if you are directed to do so by an authorised officer, you may carry out euthanisation and destruction of bees you have care, custody or control of.

No, movement of wrapped or frozen honey supers out of the red zone is not permitted.

All registered beekeepers to conduct three alcohol washes a year, at least 16 weeks apart to help facilitate surveillance across the State and ensure our industry remains viable and healthy.

Beekeepers can report results of alcohol washes to NSW DPI by calling 1800 084 881 or by filling in the form at www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/alcohol-wash.

Beekeepers are no longer required to wash hives before they move, provided that the apiary proposed to be moved has been subjected to at least one wash under the new requirements. The requirement to wash all apiaries three times per year will address the risk of unknown infestations.

Yes. You may extract honey from a Flow hive via the tap that is part of the hive.  You may also then remove the honey super and move the honey super to an enclosed, bee-proof space.

In the red and purple zones, registered beekeepers and pest controllers can catch swarms, but only for the purpose of euthanising the bees.

Red eradication zone euthanasia, disposal and reimbursement

There are 3 options for disposal after euthanisation.

  1. DPI collects and disposes hives including contents of hives
  2. Beekeepers chooses to retain hives (box only)
  3. Beekeeper chooses to retain hives (box and frames)

Disposal

There are 3 options for equipment once it has been cleaned:

  1. Store
  2. Irradiate hives
  3. Request a movement permit

Clean equipment

Clean equipment

The Varroa mite emergency response has conducted extensive surveillance around the perimeter of the Varroa mite red eradication zones. Euthanasia and disposal of infected premises has been underway for some weeks. While this continues, the focus has now moved to the euthanasia and disposal of all remaining hives as the next phase of the response.

The main focus for this eradication phase of Varroa mite will start in red eradication zones around the perimeter of the Hunter area moving in towards the centre of these zones.

Euthanasia and disposal of infected premises has occurred on a case-by-case basis since the beginning of the Varroa mite emergency response.

Following an intensive surveillance program and our confidence in the containment of Varroa mite in the Hunter area, the change in focus of the response is moving to widespread euthanasia and disposal of all beehives in the red eradication zone.

The broadscale euthanasia program commenced on Monday 22 August and is expected to be completed at the end of September 2022, weather conditions dependent.

No. All European honey bees will be euthanised. The native bee will not be euthanised.

The goal of the Varroa mite response is the full eradication of the parasite from NSW. Eradication of the Varroa mite aims to help all beekeepers and the industries and communities they support.

All honey bees in the red zone must be euthanised, to achieve the aim of full eradication of Varroa mite.

Euthanising uninfected hives means we are removing any chance of Varroa mite surviving and spreading undetected through potential future hosts, where incubation of the parasite may be happening.

If you are a registered beekeeper in NSW and your bees and hives have been euthanised and disposed of under the Varroa Mite emergency response, you are eligible for reimbursement.

Authorised officers will conduct a final audit of euthanasia and disposal, completing the required acknowledgement form. This form will be signed by the authorised officer and you the beekeeper, certifying the number of hives euthanised, what was disposed of and retained and what is eligible for reimbursement.

For commercial beekeepers, the acknowledgement form will record all honey bees, hives and hiveware in more detail. This is required as per the commercial reimbursement package.

After that, the authorised officer will provide the web link to the Rural Assistance Authority website. Beekeepers need to complete the online form, before processing of the reimbursement application can begin.

For recreational beekeepers, this information includes your contact details, registration details, bank details.

For commercial beekeepers, this information includes your contact and registration details, bank details and business information (such as tax return, ABN and receipts if applicable).

Euthanising of honey bees is primarily conducted in the evening/night, or other times if conditions suit, when bees are primarily within their hive and able to be safely disturbed.

The hive entrances are sealed and a cloth soaked in petrol is placed within the hive, where the fumes euthanise the bees quickly.

The hives are wrapped in plastic to prevent any bees getting into or out of the hive.

Depending on what disposal option a beekeeper has chosen, the hive will remain in place for approximately four days before disposal, or 21 days until it can be unwrapped and cleaned for re-use in the future.

In some cases, a beekeeper may euthanise their own hives but only if permitted to do so by an authorised officer.

Unless you choose to retain your hives, NSW DPI will arrange for collection and disposal of euthanised hives.

Hives marked for disposal are transported directly to approved waste management facilities within the red eradication zone. They are disposed of into a pit dedicated to just the hives.

The vehicle used to transport the hives will be decontaminated after each load to ensure no trace of hive contents is moved during operation

As part of your conversation with an authorised officer, if you have chosen the option of full disposal of your hives, NSW DPI will arrange to pick up your hives and disposal. There is no action required of you, except to ensure the hives are accessible.

As part of your conversation with an authorised officer, you can keep your hives if you have chosen the option at the time of bees being euthanised.

Your hives will be wrapped for 21 days, before they can be unwrapped and cleaned. The authorised officer on site will discuss this process further.

Cleaning requirements:

  • Empty all contents (including frames) into a garbage bag, ensuring you scrape out as much as you can into the bag. Check with your local council for requirements regarding disposal of apiary material.
  • Then clean the hiveware with warm soapy water to ensure that they are free of bees, honey, wax and any other contaminants.

You can move a honey super to an enclosed, bee-proof space to extract honey. This must be within the same zone. Take practicable measures to remove all bees from the honey super. The brood box or any part of the brood box must NOT be moved. The extracted honey must be stored in a bee proof container.

Transport must be by the most direct route, and not pass through another coloured zone. The honey super must be bee proof prior to moving. The honey super must be sealed until it reaches the bee-proof space. Honey supers must remain in a bee proof state the whole time. Vehicle decontamination requirements must be carried out before and after transportation. You must comply with vehicle decontamination requirements before and after transportation. Ensure clothing is free from bees upon completion. This is the same for flow hives.

Honey supers cannot be placed on another hive until they have been:

(a) stored in a bee-proof manner for 21 days, or

(b) stored in cold storage at -20 degrees Celsius (+/- 2 degrees) for 72 hours

The Rural Adversity Mental Health Program Team (RAMHP) are based across regional, rural and remote NSW who can provide specialist knowledge and support.  They are available to educate, encourage and link people to mental health support, where and when it is needed.  You can contact your local RAMHP Coordinator for a chat about how you are feeling and what mental health support options could be of assistance to you.

Use the following link to register for assistance https://www.ramhp.com.au/get-support/

Having a tough time and need someone to talk to right now? The following services are there to listen and help you out. They are confidential and available 24/7.

The Mental Health Line1800 011 511
Beyond Blue1300 22 4636
Lifeline131114
Mens Line Australia1300 78 99 78
Kids Help Line1800 55 1800
Domestic Violence Line1800 656 463

The goal is to achieve eradication by removing 100% of the hosts.

What can I do in the purple surveillance zone?

You must tell NSW DPI the location of your hives;

  • by telephone to the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline on 1800 084 881,
  • or by using the online form.

This includes reporting the location of any feral hives in a purple or red zone.

You must not move your bees or hives into, or out of, or within the purple zone.

You can move your bees, including your queen and escort bees, within the same property, apiary site and apiary range to undertake surveillance, disposal and destruction. They must remain in the purple zone.

You can move a hive that has had contact with bees for limited reasons, including:

  • for the purpose of destruction as directed by an authorised officer
  • to split the hive within the same property, apiary site and apiary range.

Your hive must remain within the Purple zone.

It may be possible to apply for a permit to move your bees and hives for other reasons. Call the Hotline on 1800 084 881 to discuss.

You can work your hives.

You can manage queenless, deadout, AFB or small hive beetle infestations, and carry out inspections. A registered beekeeper may split their hives on a single premise but they may not be moved.

An empty honey super may be moved  if it is wrapped in a bee proof manner, transported by the most direct route and remains wrapped until it reaches its destination, whether that is in the Surveillance or General Zone.

Only registered beekeepers and qualified pest controllers can move feral bees in a container so that the feral bees may be destroyed, and only within the same Emergency Zone. Destruction must be carried out as soon as practicable.

If you see feral bees notify:

  • Exotic Plant Pest Hotline: 1800 084 881 (9am to 5pm, 7 days a week) or
  • Fill in the online form

A registered beekeeper may split their hives on a single premises.

A beekeeper who moves their split hives and bees within the Varroa mite surveillance emergency zone must comply with the movement requirements above.

If you are a registered beekeeper, within the surveillance zone you are allowed to raise queen bees and queen cells and are able to move queen bees with any escorts, and queen cells within a single premises.

Registered commercial beekeepers are allowed to move queen bees with any escorts, and queen cells from interstate into the Surveillance Zone and General Emergency Zone. The queen bees with escort bees and queen cells must be moved in a secure bee proof container and remain in the secure container until arrival at the premises of the hive into which they are to be placed.

The registered commercial beekeeper must make a record of the following and retain that record for a period of 5 years:

  • the location where the queen bee was bred
  • the date on which movement occurred
  • details of the original and destination premises.

Producers needing bees for pollination in the purple zone may AT THEIR OWN RISK, buy bees from the blue zone and apply for a hive movement permit to move them. There is no guarantee that a hive movement permit will be issued. Once these bees are brought into the purple zone, they can NOT leave the purple zone. The purchaser will have to register as a beekeeper.

When applying for the permit buyers will need to provide the following information:

  • Who the bees were bought from
  • Where they are being bought from
  • Where they are going to
  • Have they been in any other zones?

A registered beekeeper must not move a hive that has been:

(a) in the Narrabri emergency zones after 30 April 2022.

(b) in the Coffs Harbour emergency zones after 1 January 2022

(c) in the Varroa mite eradication emergency (red) zone, or the Varroa mite surveillance (purple) emergency zone in the 24 months before the date of the proposed movement.

If a permit is granted, a list of conditions will be issued with the permit which must be complied with.

To apply for a permit call: Exotic Plant Pest Hotline on 1800 084 881 (9am to 5pm, 7 days a week). There is no guarantee that a hive movement permit will be issued.

All registered beekeepers to conduct three alcohol washes a year, at least 16 weeks apart to help facilitate surveillance across the State and ensure our industry remains viable and healthy.

Beekeepers can report results of alcohol washes to NSW DPI by calling 1800 084 881 or by filling in the form at www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/alcohol-wash.

Beekeepers are no longer required to wash hives before they move, provided that the apiary proposed to be moved has been subjected to at least one wash under the new requirements. The requirement to wash all apiaries three times per year will address the risk of unknown infestations.

In the red and purple zones, registered beekeepers and pest controllers can catch swarms, but only for the purpose of euthanising the bees.

You can move a honey super to an enclosed, bee-proof space to extract honey. This must be within the same zone. Take practicable measures to remove all bees from the honey super. The brood box or any part of the brood box must NOT be moved. The extracted honey must be stored in a bee proof container.

Transport must be by the most direct route, and not pass through another coloured zone. The honey super must be bee proof prior to moving. The honey super must be sealed until it reaches the bee-proof space. Honey supers must remain in a bee proof state the whole time. Vehicle decontamination requirements must be carried out before and after transportation. You must comply with vehicle decontamination requirements before and after transportation. Ensure clothing is free from bees upon completion. This is the same for flow hives.

Honey supers cannot be placed on another hive until they have been:

  1. stored in a bee-proof manner for 21 days, or
  2. stored in cold storage at -20 degrees Celsius (+/- 2 degrees) for 72 hours
Empty honey supers may be moved anywhere in Purple Zone or General Eradication Zone under secure conditions.

Purple surveillance zone reimbursement

Registered commercial beekeepers impacted by Varroa mite in the surveillance (purple) zone can now access reimbursement payments under the agreed National Response Plan.

Commercial beekeepers have two voluntary options for financial reimbursement, as follows:

Option 1: Euthanasia of bees - $290.00 (nucleus colony with five frames) plus $7.85 per additional brood box frame (maximum of five frames).

Or, if beekeepers chose not to euthanasia bees:

Option 2: The value of products forgone (honey) - 1 hive of honey minus costs of production: $117.00.

The euthanasia option is intended to be used to assist the beekeeper to re-establish in the general emergency (blue) zone and covers the cost of a nucleus colony and frames.

The Owner Reimbursement Costs (ORC) reimbursements are once-off payments.

No, the 25km surveillance (purple) zones are areas where DPI Authorised Officers are monitoring and inspecting managed and honeybees to limit the extent of these incursions.

Commercial beekeepers with colonies and hives in the surveillance zone who are not permitted to move hives without a movement declaration permit may opt to euthanise their hives or claim for the cost of product foregone.

Authorised NSW DPI officers will contact you to discuss your options and next steps.

Depending on your location, some surveillance may need to be undertaken before the ORC application process can occur.

Euthanising of honey bees is primarily conducted in the evening/night, or other times if conditions suit, when bees are primarily within their hive and able to be safely disturbed.

The hive entrances are sealed, and a cloth soaked in petrol is placed within the hive, where the fumes euthanise the bees quickly.

The hives are wrapped in plastic to prevent any bees getting into or out of the hive.

The hive must remain in place for 21 days until it can be disposed of, or unwrapped and cleaned for re-use in the future.

Commercial beekeepers in the surveillance (purple) zone will need to euthanise their own hives.

NSW DPI can provide advice on how to euthanise your own hives. The method being used is euthanising with a petrol (APVMA Permit 92753) treatment and sealing of the hives by wrapping.

Communication with further instruction will be sent out to relevant beekeepers.

NSW DPI authorised officers may need to inspect hives to confirm euthanasia has taken place.

Hives must be made bee-proof by wrapping with plastic, have tamper proof tape applied and be sealed and stored securely for a minimum of 21 days.  

All retained hive ware will need to be cleaned before reuse outside of the purple zone. Bees, wax and honey must be removed, bagged, and disposed into a disposable garbage bag. You can then dispose of the bag in the domestic waste, or bury it via an EPA approved waste management centre.

Timing will be different depending on individual circumstances but will likely take several weeks.

In NSW, beekeepers who own European honey bees (Apis mellifera) must register with NSW DPI. If you are a beekeeper in NSW, play your part in protecting our bee populations and the role they play in pollination by registering your hives.

Compulsory registration helps us prevent the spread of unwanted pests and diseases including Varroa and tracheal mites. We are able to contact beekeepers and locate hives that may require treatment or inspection.

We are also able to offer registered beekeepers regular information on beekeeping biosecurity and training services.

You can register here.

Recreational beekeepers in the surveillance (purple) zone are able to:

  • Work hives on site
  • Catch and euthanise swarms
  • Breed Queen bees for own hive
  • Split hives within the same premises
  • Move empty supers
  • Extract honey from hives
  • Move the honey super for extraction anywhere in Purple Zone or General Eradication Zone under secure conditions
  • Do alcohol washes every 16 weeks and report results online, as required under the Act

Surveillance in the purple zone

NSW DPI is required to continue surveillance in Varroa mite emergency response (purple) zones to provide evidence of the absence (or “proof of freedom”) of Varroa mite. Because it is hard to detect mites at low levels of infection, two surveillance events are required approximately 6 months apart to be confident of a negative result.

The number of tests to be carried out is determined by World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH) guidelines.

Beekeepers are still required to conduct three alcohol washes a year, at least 16 weeks apart to help facilitate surveillance. Both positive and negative results must be reported to NSW DPI by calling 1800 084 881 or by filling in the online form.

A surveillance event consists of NSW DPI conducting testing on apiaries to confirm the absence of Varroa mite. Surveillance may consist of the use of sticky mat and miticide testing, or alcohol washes. The majority of surveillance will be undertaken using sticky mats and miticide.

NSW DPI will work with registered beekeepers directly to discuss which type of surveillance event will be used in each area. This may change from location to location depending on various factors.

Sticky mats used in conjunction with miticide strips are a highly effective varroa mite detection technique.

This combination provides us with essential information to monitor Varroa mite across emergency zones and pollination sites in NSW. It also is a balanced approach – NSW DPI is working hard to minimise the impact on hives during surveillance, whilst achieving a suitable level of confidence that hives are Varroa mite free.

NSW DPI is permitted to use sticky mats and miticide strips according to a permit from the Australian Pest and Veterinary Medicines Authority.

There are minimum numbers of hives that need to be tested, depending on the surveillance used. For sticky mat and miticide testing we may test up to 64 hives per apiary site, depending on the size of the apiary.

NSW DPI will work with those with organic status on a case-by-case basis.

There is a low risk of residue issues in hive products by the use of sticky mats and miticide strips, however beekeepers are encouraged to remove honey supers prior to surveillance.

NSW DPI has used these strips and mats previously and took honey samples for residual testing which found all samples were below the Maximum Residue Level (known as the MRL) nevertheless NSW DPI are reducing the risk of residues even further in honey and hive products when using this surveillance technique by:

  • sampling the minimum number of hives required to obtain the required level of surveillance
  • using the most appropriate miticide with lowest residue risk while also maintaining maximum efficacy
  • placing miticide strips in brood boxes, not honey supers
  • advising beekeepers so they can extract honey prior to strips being placed in a hive.

Low residue levels in honey for human consumption are permitted under a MRL. This is not the case for honeycomb – it is not permitted to be sold or distributed for human consumption.

Under the APVMA permit, MRLs are in place for Bayvarol miticide strips allowing for the honey to be sold provided it is tested and shown to be under that MRL.

Beekeepers need to ensure this honey does not exceed MRLs if they intend for it to be sold, supplied or otherwise made available for human consumption.

NSW DPI will carry out some random MRL testing of honey, however it is the responsibility for beekeepers to have their honey tested. Commercial beekeepers can discuss testing requirements with their packer.

According to the APVMA permit, comb honey should not be made available for human consumption if miticide strips are used during honey flow or when supers are present.

NSW DPI may test all hives or a sample of hives at the selected apiary sites. The number of hives tested per apiary is based on epidemiological advice and a range of factors, including the size of the apiary. The number of hives per apiary tested, using miticide strips and sticky mats, is based on the

  • prior confidence of freedom attained from the initial alcohol wash tests carried out
  • the probability of new infestation since the first sample (1%)
  • the expected infestation of 5% hives or greater
  • the sensitivity of the test (95%)
  • specificity of the test (100%) and the
  • required confidence of freedom from infestation of 95%.

Beekeepers will be informed of the results only if Varroa mite is detected through the surveillance activities. The full analysis can take several weeks. If there is a positive detection at a premise through this surveillance, the registered beekeeper will be notified immediately.

The method that will be used for organic beekeeping operations for this phase of surveillance will be alcohol wash. The number of hives that will be tested will be based on the same ratio that was applied in the initial round of surveillance.

What can I do in the blue general zone?

Yes, you can work your hives.

Generally, there is a standstill on all bee and hive movement in NSW.

Surveillance

Bees may be moved by both registered commercial and recreational beekeepers within a single property, apiary site or apiary range within the general blue zone. This allows a registered beekeeper to undertake surveillance by sugar shake, brood uncapping and alcohol washing.


Registered beekeepers

Hive Movement Declaration

If you are a registered beekeeper in the General Emergency Zone (blue), you can move your hives within the low risk areas of NSW if you;

Queen bees and escort bees

As per the emergency order, only registered commercial beekeepers can move queen bees (and any escort bees) or queen cells to any registered beekeeper:

  • within the blue General Emergency zone
  • from the blue General Emergency Zone into the purple Surveillance Emergency Zones.

When moving queens and queen cells, registered commercial beekeepers must ensure the queen bee (with any escort bees) or queen cells:

  • are moved in a secure container that prevents them from coming into contact with any other bees
  • remain in the secure container until they arrive at the premises at which they will be placed into a hive.

The registered commercial beekeeper must make a record of the following and retain that record for a period of 5 years:

  • the location where the queen bee was bred
  • the date on which movement occurred
  • details of the original and destination premises
  • bee registration number of the receiving beekeeper.

A registered beekeeper may split their hives on a single premises.

A beekeeper who moves their split hives and bees within the Varroa mite general emergency zone must comply with the movement requirements above.

If you are a registered beekeeper you are allowed to raise queen bees and queen cells and are able to move queen bees with any escorts, and queen cells within a single premises.

If you are a commercial registered beekeeper you are allowed to move queen bees with any escorts, and queen cells between premises within a single beekeeping operation, provided the premises are within the Varroa mite general emergency (blue) zone.

single beekeeping operation means the hives and bees held by the commercial registered beekeeper.

Registered commercial beekeepers are allowed to move queen bees with any escorts, and queen cells from interstate into a premises within the Surveillance Zone and General Emergency Zone.

Registered commercial beekeepers are allowed to move queen bees with any escorts, and queen cells within a single beekeeping operation.

To sell queens, the commercial queen breeder must:

  • complete the online Tocal Varroa training
  • ensure that the apiary from which queens are harvested has been subject to the new apiary alcohol washing requirements prior to the first harvest with no Varroa detected
  • maintain records of queen and queen cell sales for 5 years.

When moving queens and queen cells, registered commercial beekeepers must ensure the queen bee (with any escort bees) or queen cells:

  • are moved in a secure container that prevents them from coming into contact with any other bees
  • remain in the secure container until they arrive at the premises at which they will be placed into a hive.

The registered commercial beekeeper must make a record of the following and retain that record for a period of 5 years:

  • the location where the queen bee was bred
  • the date on which movement occurred
  • details of the original and destination premises.

Registered commercial queen bee breeders cannot sell queen bees into the Eradication Zone.

You can buy or sell queen bees and packaged bees or nucleus hives. Packaged bees however cannot be moved.

The movement of nucleus hives may be done by a registered commercial beekeeper by submitting a Hive Movement Declaration. If the movement request is approved the registered beekeeper will be issued with an individual permit for this movement.

Registered commercial beekeepers

Registered commercial beekeepers can move queen bees (and any escort bees) or queen cells to any registered beekeepers within the blue General Emergency and to the purple Surveillance Emergency Zones.

To sell queens, the commercial queen breeder must

  • complete the online Tocal Varroa training
  • ensure that the apiary from which queens are harvested has been subject to the new apiary alcohol washing requirements prior to the first harvest with no Varroa detected
  • maintain records of queen and queen cell sales for 5 years.

When moving queens and queen cells, registered commercial beekeepers must ensure the queen bee (with any escort bees) or queen cells:

  • are moved in a secure container that prevents them from coming into contact with any other bees
  • remain in the secure container until they arrive at the premises at which they will be placed into a hive.

The registered commercial beekeeper must make a record of the following and retain that record for a period of 5 years:

  • the location where the queen bee was bred
  • the date on which movement occurred
  • details of the original and destination premises.

Registered recreational beekeepers

Registered recreational beekeepers in the General Emergency Zone can raise queens and move them between hives on the same premises but cannot move them between premises or supply them to other beekeepers

All registered beekeepers are required to conduct three alcohol washes a year, at least 16 weeks apart to help facilitate surveillance across the State and ensure our industry remains viable and healthy.

Beekeepers can report results of alcohol washes to NSW DPI by calling 1800 084 881 or by filling in the form at www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/alcohol-wash.

Beekeepers are no longer required to wash hives before they move, provided that the apiary proposed to be moved has been subjected to at least one wash under the new requirements. The requirement to wash all apiaries three times per year will address the risk of unknown infestations.

Yes, if the person is moving the bees from another location in the general zone, and the person has completed the requirements of the Hive Movement Declaration:

  • completed the Tocal training,
  • complete alcohol washing requirements, and
  • provide a movement declaration to the Department.
In the blue zone registered beekeepers are permitted to catch swarms and keep them as managed colonies.
Beekeepers may move a swarm within the blue zone if they:
  • have completed the Tocal training,
  • complete alcohol washing requirements, and
  • provide a movement declaration to the Department.

Varroa mite

Varroa mites (Varroa jacobsoni and V. destructor) are the most serious pest of honey bees worldwide. The mites are tiny reddish brown external parasites of honey bees.

Read more about Varroa mite on our Primefact.

Varroa mites can spread through drifting drones and worker bees as well as through swarms and absconding colonies. The transport and movement of hives, used beekeeping equipment, packaged bees and queen bees are also effective means of spread.

Varroa mite (Varroa destructor) was detected in two of six sentinel hives at the Port of Newcastle on Wednesday 22 June 2022. The detection was the result of routine surveillance on sentinel hives by NSW Bee Biosecurity Officers.

The current detection is the first time Varroa mite has been found in NSW.

NSW DPI ran the sugar shake campaign in autumn this year, receiving a record number of responses, none of which showed the presence of Varroa mite.

Tracing is a critical part of every response and is a focus for us as we eradicate Varroa mite in NSW. Sourcing 12 months worth of data around the acquisition of honeybees from the Newcastle area will ensure we have all the information we need to continue this surveillance work.

Sentinel hives

The sentinel hives near the Port of Newcastle are closely monitored honeybee colonies used for early detection of diseases and pests, including varroa mite.

All around the country surveillance hives are placed at ports through the national bee pest surveillance program, which is a partnership between government and industry to ensure an early surveillance network across the country.

This detection is a demonstration of the effectiveness of this partnership.

The sentinel hives are checked every six to eight weeks.

Detection

The biosecurity order allows you to test for Varroa mite using the alcohol wash method.

Watch the online video with instruction on how to use the alcohol wash to detect Varroa mite in your hive.

As of 15 September 2022, beekeepers must:

  • Undertake at least one alcohol wash every 16 weeks
  • Report results of alcohol washes to NSW DPI by calling 1800 084 881 or by filling in the online form.

Beekeepers no longer need to:

  • Do alcohol washes before moving hives, if the apiary has had at least one wash in the 16 weeks before the proposed movement.
Alcohol means 100% ethanol, isopropyl alcohol or methylated spirits.
Alcohol washing means washing a sample of at least 300 bees from a hive in alcohol to detach Varroa mites to inspect for the presence of Varroa mite.
Alcohol washing requirements on hive numbers are as follows:
(a) if the person owns or has control of less than 64 hives – alcohol washing is required of all hives,
(b) if the person owns or has control of more than 64 hives but less than 640 hives – alcohol washing *is required of 64 hives, or
(c) if the person owns or has control of more than 640 hives – alcohol washing is required of 10% of hives.

Management of swarms by non-commercial registered beekeepers

Registered beekeepers, who are not registered commercial beekeepers, may capture and move a swarm for the purpose of managing the swarm as bees in a hive.

The registered beekeeper moving the swarm into a hive for the purpose of managing the swarm as bees must conduct surveillance by alcohol washing the hive before the hive is moved with bees in it.

No, bees must be euthanised and hives destroyed by NSW DPI staff. If you have bees and hives in this zone, you must make them available to NSW DPI staff.

Report your Varroa mite alcohol wash results using the form at www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/alcohol-wash.

Honeybee industry information

Read our Assistance Guide for Beekeepers of various assistance available to impacted beekeepers to support them through the emergency response.

Updates sent directly to registered beekeepers can be found here.

October

  • 20 October 2022 - Movement freedom for recreational beekeepers in blue zone
  • 19 October-  Beekeeper update purple surveillance zone

September

August

July

June

Registered commercial beekeepers

Registered commercial beekeepers will be compensated for all essential equipment, hives and honeybees that are destroyed through the eradication process and the costs for reimbursement will be shared by industry and state and commonwealth governments.

Further information will be made available.

Registered recreational beekeepers

Recreational beekeepers affected by varroa mite will be reimbursed for the destruction of their hives and bees under the agreed National Response Plan.

If you are a recreational beekeeper and your hives are to be euthanised within a red eradication zone, there are three options for reimbursement.

  • Destruction and disposal of bees and hive ware
  • Euthanised bee colony and keep hive ware
  • Euthanised nucleus hives

The amounts available for reimbursement are as follows:

  • Destruction and disposal of a fullsize hive - $550 dollars per single hive.
  • Keep hive ware - $200 per single hive.
  • Euthanised Nucleus hives - $200. (The beekeeper can opt to retain or have the nucleus hive ware destroyed and disposed of, the amount of reimbursement will be the same).

The compensation framework has been established since 2005 by industry and government under the Emergency Plant Pest Response Deed.

If you are aware of a swarm in the red or purple zones please report it using the online form or call the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline 1800 084 881.

If there is any danger to public safety please call 000 immediately.

If you are a registered beekeeper we can contact you with information as it comes to hand. You can also monitor for updates on our social media channels or via the website at:

Hive Movement Declaration

Registered beekeepers in the blue zone can submit a Hive Movement Declaration to move hives and bees within the blue zone.

They need to comply with all requirements including:

Registered beekeeper in the red and purple zone can move hives and bees within a single property, apiary site or apiary range for surveillance and authorised destruction. The bees and hive must remain within the same zone.

It may be possible to apply for a permit to move hives for other reasons. Call the Hotline on 1800 084 881 to discuss.

The movement of any hive that has been in the following areas in the 24 month period prior to the date of the proposed movement is not permitted:

  • eradication emergency (red) zone
  • surveillance emergency (purple) zone

The movement of any hive that has been in the Narrabri emergency zones after 30 April 2022 is not permitted.

  • This means the movement of hives that were in the Narrabri zones before 30 April 2022 can be moved, once a Hive Movement Declaration has been completed.

The movement of any hive that has been in the Coffs Harbour emergency zones after 1st January 2022 is not permitted.

  • This means the movement of hives that were in the Coffs Harbour emergency zones before 1st January 2022 can occur, once a Hive Movement Declaration has been completed.

As long as your application complies with the Hive Movement Declaration requirements, you will be able to print and use it immediately.

The Rural Financial Counselling Service NSW, or Rural Financial Counselling Service NSW Northern Region can assist beekeepers with forms

  • RFCS NSW - 1800 319 458
  • RFCS NR – 1800 344 090

Yes you need to submit a new Hive Movement Declaration when you want to move your honeybees and hives again.

No, a copy of the declaration and the emergency group permit must be carried by those transporting the declared hives.

The online course will take approximately 20-40 minutes to complete.

Go to the online course via Tocal College.

All registered beekeepers are required to conduct alcohol washes at least once in every 16 week period.

Beekeepers can report results of alcohol washes to NSW DPI by calling 1800 084 881 or by filling in the form at www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/alcohol-wash.

Records must also be kept by the beekeeper for five years.

Beekeepers are no longer required to wash hives before they move, provided that the apiary proposed to be moved has been subjected to at least one wash under the new requirements. The requirement to wash all apiaries three times per year will address the risk of unknown infestations.

Alcohol wash has been determined as a more effective test for this purpose, and therefore the only testing method acceptable for Hive Movement Declaration applications.

No. NSW DPI will be carrying out compliance checks. We’re working with beekeepers and growers to ensure that the permit requirements are followed to allow business continuity.

The Biosecurity Emergency Group Permit remains valid until any amendment or cancellation. Remember, you need to complete the declaration form for every movement of honeybees and hives, even if you are returning to the same location.

This is a requirement under the Biosecurity (Varroa mite) Emergency Order 2022

Hives must be transported in a manner that prevents the escape or entry of bees out of or into those hives.

It is not required to cover your hives when travelling. However if travelling during the day it is recommended to cover your hives with netting.

Hives must be transported in a manner that prevents escape or entry of bees out of or into those hives.

Registered beekeepers must not transit through the Varroa mite eradication emergency (red) zone, Varroa mite surveillance emergency (purple) zone or the Varroa mite notification (yellow) emergency zone. Beekeepers must transit NSW in the shortest possible time and the hives must not remain within NSW for longer than 48 hours.

Hives and honeybees that have been in an eradication zone (red zone) within the past 24 months or in the Narrabri emergency zone since 30 April 2022 are not permitted to be moved.

See additional information about entry conditions to other states:

NSW beekeepers are not permitted to move hives into Victoria.

For more information see the Victorian Government website

The movement plan allowing approved registered beekeepers to move hives has been developed through a risk-based approach. This means that risk has been assessed, and we've worked to put as many actions in place to ensure that risk of Varroa mite moving to other parts of NSW is as low as possible.

The actions to keep risk as low as possible include:

  • requiring beekeepers to alcohol wash hives prior to moving (the number required dependent on how many hives owned to be moved)
  • only permitting honeybee and hive movement between low risk areas of the State (Emergency (blue) Zone)
  • requiring beekeepers to complete the Tocal Varroa mite online training within twelve months before hive movement
  • requiring beekeepers to provide details of the proposed movements by completing the Hive Movement Declaration
  • requiring beekeepers to declare they have not been in the relevant emergency zones (as noted above)
  • intensive surveillance at pollination services locations, using strips and sticky mats which are checked regularly across some hives.

Surveillance of hives moved under the Hive Movement Declaration

During this surveillance, a total of 20 hives across an enterprise will be sampled using miticide strips and sticky boards. This approach, in combination with the mandatory alcohol wash, will provide the balance between minimising the impact to the beekeeper's enterprise and attaining the level of confidence of hives being Varroa mite free.

The total number of enterprises sampled will be dependent on a number of factors including weather and available resources

The risk of potential residue issues due to miticides being used in surveillance is reduced by

  • Sampling only 20 hives per enterprise
  • Using the most appropriate miticide with lowest residue risk while also maintaining maximum efficacy

Maximum Residue Levels (MRL’s) are in place for Bayvarol allowing for the honey to be sold provided it is under the MRL.

Surveillance on 20 hives per enterprise, using miticide strips and sticky boards, is based on the

  • prior confidence of freedom attained from the initial alcohol wash prior to movement,
  • the probability of new infestation since the first sample (1%),
  • the expected infestation of 5% hives or greater,
  • the sensitivity of the test (95%),
  • specificity of the test (100%) and the
  • required confidence of freedom from infestation of 95%.

There is no intention of locking bees down on almond orchards.

For the enterprise that owns the infested hives the following will occur:

  • The infested load of hives will be euthanised.
  • Zoning will not be applied to the almond property.  Tracing will be undertaken to determine the premises of origin of the infested hives and that site will be subject to zoning.
  • All other hives associated with the enterprise will be allowed to move onto another crop e.g. canola where they will be subject to intensive surveillance.

For neighbouring hives the following will occur:

  • A risk assessment will be undertaken on the likelihood of how far bees have travelled from the infested hive (1-3km) and will be based on health of the almond bloom, prior weather conditions and proximity to other sources of food such as canola crops.
  • Neighbouring hives that are within the determined radius will be allowed to move onto another crop e.g. canola where they will be subject to intensive surveillance.

Any varroa mite detection beyond the current red zones will be notified immediately to the Consultative Committee on Emergency Plant Pests.

Native bees

European honeybees will be affected by mites and the baiting chemical

Native bees are not affected by varroa mite.

Native bees and native beehives are not covered under the Biosecurity Act and therefore can be moved legally in NSW. Varroa mite does not present a risk to native bees and native bees are not a carrier of the mite.

Floodwatch and beekeepers

Beekeepers whose hives are located in an area described by the Australian Government Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) in a current flood warning whose bees or hives are in a location that may be at risk of inundation due to flood water can operate under the Emergency Group Permit.

Under the permit hives can be moved to a location at a higher elevation at the same premises. Notify DPI of the movement by completing the online form or calling 1800 084 881 (9am to 5pm - 7 days).

Adverse weather will impact our ability to access some locations where hives are if they are in flood-affected areas.

NSW DPI field crews will continue surveillance work in safer locations until the threat passes. We will continue to euthanise the hives and secure them so the risk is taken care off. The actual disposal can happen later.

Flood waters will not create any significant increased risk, however we are permitting beekeepers to move bees away from flood waters (see above question).

When the honeybee dies, so does the Varroa mite. Varroa mite can’t survive more than 6 days without the honeybee.

We are not concerned about Varroa mite spreading through flood waters.