Varroa mite found on the Peninsula
The destructive honey bee parasite varroa mite has been found at Woy Woy, Umina Beach, Horsfield Bay and Koolewong.
The whole Peninsula has been declared an eradication emergency red zone and all managed European honey bee hives within the surrounding area will be euthanased.
Bees and hives must not be moved into, out of, or within the red zone.
The zoning will be maintained until eradication is proven, which is likely to be several years, according to a statement from the NSW Department of Primary Industries.
The Department describes the mite as "the most serious pest of honey bees worldwide".
"Left untreated varroa mite will kill any bee hive it infects. All feral and untreated bee colonies will eventually die."
The mite is spread between hives by drone bees.
The Department's statement said it was acting with "haste in the Central Coast" and called on residents to report feral hives and to offer to host bait stations.
Poison baiting of wild honey bees "will be rolled out first, before managed hives are euthanased".
The Department said the varroa mite does not present a risk to native bees and native bees are not a carrier of the mite.
However, the baiting program may affect them, according to Dr Anne Dollin of the Australian Native Bee Research Centre.
"The use of baits poisoned with Fipronil will impact local native bees and other pollinators.
"Biosecurity NSW is striving to make this baiting program as safe as possible for non-target species, including native bees.
"Fipronil will only be placed in each bait for a short period and then these baits will be closely monitored by an officer, the entire time, to ensure native insects, birds and mammals are not exposed to the chemical.
"Feral European honeybee foragers will visit these baits and take the Fipronil back to their nests, killing the colony.
"However, the honey in all of these poisoned feral European honeybee nests could contain active Fipronil for over two years.
"This eradication effort still could pose substantial risks to native bees that are in, or near to, the red eradication zones."
She said native bees and native beehives within the red zone can be moved legally in NSW.
"The safest action to take could be to move your hive of native stingless bees completely out of the red eradication zone and adjacent areas.
"Sadly, it will be difficult to help natural nests of native stingless bees that are inside hollow standing trees, because the risk of Fipronil poisoning will continue for up to three years in these areas.
"Similarly, it will be difficult to protect populations of solitary or semi-social native bees, such as blue-banded bees or carpenter bees.
"Fortunately, these types of bees are unlikely to be attracted to contaminated honey inside dead feral European honeybee nests, so they may not be affected."
A reduction of feral honey bees in the bush "would reduce competition for nectar and pollen resources in the bush, which should benefit some native bee populations," she said.
The Crommelin Native Arboretum at Pearl Beach has a number of hives of stingless native bees (tetragonia carbonaria).
"Tetragonia carbonarias don't fly very far," said Pearl Beach native bee group convenor Ms Ann Parsons.
"Given that there would only be a few if any honey bees hives at Pearl Beach, we'll leave the bees in the Arboretum."
Member for Gosford Ms Liesl Tesch, who described herself as "a keen apiarist herself", said last week: "The varroa mite outbreak has been nothing short of devastating for the State's honeybee population.
"I understand people's heartbreak over losing their bees as I will have to go through the same process myself.
"The beekeeping community have been outstanding in their commitment and vigilance during this difficult time, especially during this latest outbreak.
"I urge them to keep up their diligence to help stop the spread of this outbreak."
Dr Dollin said: "This crisis highlights the vital importance of developing native bees as alternative pollinators for Australian agricultural crops.
"If this varroa mite incursion cannot be eradicated, massive losses of honey bees will occur throughout Australia.
"Then the pollination services of native bees and other insects will become crucial to support Australian agriculture."
Media statement, 17 Mar 2023
Media unit, DPI NSW