Peninsula falls outside bee eradication zone
The Peninsula has narrowly avoided falling within the honeybee eradication zone following the detection of the destructive varroa mite in a hive at Somersby.
The eradication zone extends 10km as far as Koolewong and the National Park on Woy Woy Rd in The Bays.
The Department of Primary Industries is destroying all hives within the eradication zone.
The Peninsula falls within the 25km surveillance zones, where officials are monitoring and inspecting managed and feral honeybees to limit the extent of these incursions.
Outside the surveillance zone is a 50km biosecurity zones.
Beekeepers in all these zones must notify the Department of the location of their hives.
Throughout NSW, no beehives or honeybees may be moved without a permit and no honey may be harvested.
The public has been asked to report their own hives, wild hives or abandoned hives.
Hives at infested premises are being euthanised by the Department using petrol or gas.
Hives are then burnt, as varroa mite larvae can survive in the honeycomb.
Within the eradication zone, baiting will be used on a grid system, using Fipronil syrup which is then brought back to the hive by the bees and kills both the honeybees and varroa mite.
The Department has stated the baiting is "carefully monitored and supervised to protect birds, mammals and native bees".
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, according to the Department.
However, native bee keepers are concerned that monitoring may not be adequate to prevent the poisoning of native hives.
"Our Australian native bees could be impacted by this parasite in a variety of ways," said Dr Anne Dollin of the Australian Native Bee Research Centre.
"The mites may increase the levels of serious bee viruses in the environment.
"The highly toxic pesticide, although it will be used as carefully as possible, could still affect our native bees."
Dr Dollin said varroa mites were tiny, button-shaped, red-brown parasites, about two millimetres wide.
"With their flat bodies, they can burrow between the plates on the abdomen of a European honeybee and feed on the bee's fat stores.
"This badly weakens the honeybee but, in addition, varroa mites can infect the honeybee with at least five serious bee viruses."
Dr Dollin said the safest action to take would be to move hives of native stingless bees completely out of the red Eradication Zone and adjacent areas.
"You need to move the hive at least three kilometres to prevent the foragers from trying to return to their previous location.
"If you need assistance with moving your native stingless bees or you do not have a safe location to take the hive to, Mr Dan Smailes of Sydney Native Bees has offered assistance. "Another option is to close up all entrances to your hive of native stingless bees while the eradication work is underway.
"It is currently mid winter. Native stingless bees often naturally hibernate in NSW for many weeks in cold weather.
"They have sufficient stores of food inside their hives to support the colony.
"You could close up the main entrance and any ventilation holes by covering them with a fine metal gauze or layer of gauzy fabric."
She said the same measures could be taken with wild nests of native stingless bees in trees.
The Cromellin Native Arboretum at Pearl Beach has a number of native stingless bee hives.
Newsletter, 5 Jul 2022
Anne Dolin, Australian Native Bee Research Centre