Varroa mite detection in Coffs Harbour prompts mass beehive euthanasia in eradication zone

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Leisure and business beehives in a “purple eradication zone”‘ round Coffs Harbour shall be destroyed within the newest bid to include the unfold of varroa mite, the NSW Division of Major Industries (DPI) has confirmed.

The north coast space has been on alert since late July when the lethal bee parasite was detected in Nana Glen, 25 kilometres inland from Coffs Harbour, a couple of month after an preliminary detection within the Port of Newcastle.

Affected beekeepers and berry growers had been invited to a Tuesday evening assembly with Agriculture Minister Dugald Saunders, Coffs Harbour MP Gurmesh Singh and DPI representatives to debate the euthanasia course of and ongoing business impacts. 

Orara Valley Honey proprietor Glenn Locke stated he’ll lose about 100 hives on his property.

“We’re aggravated that it is occurring … however we’re simply paying the costs for a varroa-free Australia,” he stated. 

Mr Locke stated he believed the euthanasia of hives would begin from Friday and was anticipated to take about three weeks to finish.

“It’ll be a fairly large process. The RFS [Rural Fire Service] shall be getting concerned to help with logistics and manpower,” he stated.

“It has been a tough experience, however hopefully we get to some extent of some certainty shortly.

“We simply need to decide ourselves up and maintain going.”

Over 1,000 beehives round Coffs Harbour shall be destroyed in coming weeks.(ABC Rural: Laurissa Smith)

Looking for solutions

Mr Locke stated Tuesday’s assembly would make clear the euthanasia course of and deal with his considerations about his polystyrene hives, and reply questions on methods to guarantee they’d not be broken by the gas used to burn the hives.

Industrial and leisure keepers are to be reimbursed set quantities for hives, bees and tools misplaced within the eradication course of.

“Compensation needed to occur or there would not have been a lot cooperation,” Mr Locke stated.

“It’s going to sweeten the deal. It’s going to assist us out and is far appreciated.

“Sentiments are assorted … however it’s simply one thing we have now to get by and beekeepers must assist and take care of one another.”

A tray of blueberries held by a person wearing gloves
The native berry business depends on bee pollination companies.(ABC Rural: Eliza Rogers)

The euthanasia course of is predicted to have a severe impression on the Mid North Coast berry business, which accounted for about 80 per cent of the state’s berry manufacturing.

Mr Saunders and Berries Australia declined to remark previous to assembly with beekeepers and growers.

A DPI spokesperson stated it was working immediately with Berries Australia to “talk about the impacts of the response and ensure they had been knowledgeable how that may impression their enterprise”.

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