NSW authorities rushing to stop the spread of the deadly Varroa mite threatening the bee industry have discovered the parasite in three new locations and established a new biosecurity zone.
A total of seven contaminated properties have been discovered via contact tracing, including the first detection last week at sentinel stations near Newcastle harbor.
NSW Agriculture Minister Dugald Saunders said a new eradication zone has been established in Bulahdelah on NNSW’smid-north coast.
“”means that a new 10-kilometer eradication zone, 25-kilometer surveillance zone, and an expanded 50-kilometer biosecurity zone have been implemented to quickly stop that new incursion and halt further spread,”” he said.
“”critically, this case is directly related to a previously identified property, demonstrating that the Department of Primary IIndustries’prompt and efficient response is working well.””Mr. Saunders said the expansion of biosecurity zones is not a cause for concern.
The other two cases identified on Tuesday are in Newcastle and Seaham.
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What are expected to be hundreds more beehives around the NSW city of Newcastle, and the city of Bulahdelah will be destroyed in the coming days.
An emergency order prohibiting the movement of bees across NSW remains in effect after the deadly Varroa mite was found last week in hives near Newcastle harbor.
A second detection was made 10 kilometers away in a commercial beehive.
Ana Martin, who runs Amber Drop Honey on the mid-north coast, said she had about 40 hives in the eradication zone near Bulahdelah, which was troubling.
Ms. Martin said it was not just the economic loss but the grief that the bees had to be euthanized.
“”Between the drought, fires, floods, and now varroa, there seems to be a bit of bad luck for beekeepers lately,”” she said.
Acting chief executive of the Australian Honey Bee Industry Council, Danny Le Feuvre, said authorities are working to identify and destroy all beehives within the 10-kilometer extermination zones.
Mr. Le Feuvre said that while SSunday’semergency order was valid for six months and prevented people in NSW from moving their bees, he did not expect it to be in effect for that long.
“”even if that is lifted, hopefully within a week or two, there will still be some restrictions in the Newcastle area,”” he said.
The order covers approximately 270,000 hives across NSW.
“”while there is a shutdown, nobody in the state can move bees. There are really big and significant fines, even jail time,”” he said.
“”e are approaching almond season, so we make sure to get out early to try and establish the perimeter and get it under control before we get to almond pollination.
Hundreds of people are responding to the bee emergency at a state control center and on the ground as part of increased efforts to locate and monitor beehives.
Urgent tests are underway to determine if the mites found in NSW have a deformed wing virus.
John Roberts, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research OOrganization’sexpert on honeybee pathogens, said the mite and virus often got together — and when they did, they made a dangerous duo.
The mites feed on the blood of adult and larval bees and can weaken and kill colonies over time.
If the mites have the virus, they can pass it on to bees while enjoying their blood meal.
Infected bees end up with misshapen wings, abdomens, and other problems.
“”it f iit’sjust the dietary damage, not the virus damage; the impact is much lower than in combination when they act together,”” said Dr. Roberts.
“”t will be important to continue monitoring [for the virus] at the same time as monitoring the mite because it is just as big a threat as the mite.””The Elizabeth Macarthur Agricultural Institute is conducting the tests with support from the CSIRO.