Permits to allow commercial beekeepers to move their beehives for pollination and honey production will go live next week.
The NSW Government, in consultation with the apiary and horticultural industries, has announced the permits for commercial beekeepers ONLY if they are located outside of the eradication, surveillance or notification zones (red, purple and yellow zones as shown on the DPI website).
It comes after 39 varroa mite infested premises have been detected in NSW stemming from an initial infestation caught at the Port of Newcastle on June 22.
The permits won’t help many beekeepers in the Hunter Valley as the vast majority of the region falls in one of the eradication, surveillance or notification zones.
Minister for Agriculture Dugald Saunders said the change to the stop movement order is a big step forward and will allow this year’s pollination season to get underway.
“We know varroa mite is the biggest threat to honeybees worldwide and while we remain focused on eradication, we also recognise the need to ensure business continuity for the State’s $20.9 billion primary industries sector”, Dugald Saunders said.
“This plan has been carefully developed through a risk-based approach to enable critical pollination services for crops that we rely on so heavily.”
The permit system is due to go live on Wednesday, but beekeepers can start to prepare by:
- Alcohol washing a proportion of their hives and recording the results to prove they are free from varroa mite; and,
- Checking their records are up to date and that none of their hives has been in an eradication, notification or surveillance zone within the past 24 months.
As part of the application process, commercial beekeepers will be required to complete a short online training course through Tocal College and will need to declare that the above steps have been completed.
A second level of surveillance will be undertaken by authorised officers using miticide strips and sticky boards, when the hives have arrived at their destination.
The number of alcohol wash tests being conducted will depend on the number of hives.
For instructions on how to do an alcohol wash and to figure out how many hives need to be tested go to: www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/varroa.
Beekeepers in eradication, notification and surveillance zones are still required to report the locations of any hives to NSW DPI at www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/varroa or by calling 1800 084 881.