100 days fighting Varroa mite
The NSW Government remains confident the State can become the first jurisdiction in the world to eradicate Varroa mite, as the emergency response reaches 100 days.
Minister for Agriculture Dugald Saunders said the Department of Primary Industries has worked closely with other agencies and the beekeeping industry to contain the spread since Varroa mite was detected in sentinel hives at the Port of Newcastle in June.
“Varroa mite is the most serious threat to honey bees globally and if it was to settle in Australia, not only would it cost the honey industry $70 million a year, but it would also impact on the one in three mouthfuls of food we rely on as a direct result of pollination,” Mr Saunders said.
“It’s been a herculean effort involving 1,914 people and approximately 277,000 working hours to get us to this point today, and I thank the NSW Apiarists Association, Australian Amateur Beekeepers, the Australian Honey Bee Industry Council and pollination-dependent industries like the almond industry which have helped to build a united front against this pest.
“We know how disruptive and difficult this incursion has been for so many people and we are doing everything we can to offer them support, but it is also important to look at all we have achieved so far.
“We went from seeing cases jump by the dozen every week, to only having three cases in the past six weeks, which shows we are getting on top of the situation.
“But now is not the time for complacency and we know the job is not done until we eradicate this pest.”
Milestones in the response so far include:
- Halting the movement of hives within days of the first detection and taking swift action to euthanise hives at infected premises.
- Rolling out an $18 million compensation package for registered commercial and recreational beekeepers in the eradication (red) zones and extending that package to provide reimbursement for those in the surveillance (purple) zones.
- Strong contact tracing work linking all confirmed cases either to existing cases or by geographical location.
- Comprehensive surveillance around the perimeter of the eradication (red) zones, providing a high level of confidence in containment.
- Sampling more than 28,850 hives across the State, with an additional 86,569 sampled by beekeepers.
- Lifting a number of movement restrictions for low-risk areas in August, allowing beekeepers to work and move hives under a permit system.
- Allowing pollination events in low-risk regions, with additional safety requirements in place.
Australian Honey Bee Industry Council CEO Danny Le Feuvre said he’s in awe at how the response team has come up with solutions to the many challenges it has faced in the first 100 days.
“The Incident Management Team has been working tirelessly in the response seven days a week from the start,” Mr Le Feuvre said.
“The commitment of the staff and the resolve to eradicate the Varroa mite has been evident and without that drive the program would not be in the position it is.
“The honey bee industry is indebted to all the personnel involved in the response. Protecting the critical honey bee industry is protecting our food supply.”
Read more about the Varroa mite emergency response.