Horticulture producers in the Coffs Harbour area are urgently addressing their plan B for pollination this spring, after a new outbreak of Varroa mite was uncovered at Nana Glen.
Biosecurity officers from the DPI have destroyed hives on-property and are swiftly working through registered hives in 10km radius. Bees within 50km are not allowed to travel without permits.
While the mite is genetically linked to the Newcastle outbreak there are real fears that the industry-devastating bug, carrying disease, may spread to feral hives in adjacent state forest.
President of the NSW Apiarists Association Steve Fuller has 3000 hives directly affected by the new biosecurity zones and is very concerned that the mite - which breeds within its own sibling group - could infect feral hives in bushland.
"That's the thing with the North Coast," he said. "It's a beautiful place for bees. It's not too cold."
Mr Fuller re-iterated again the importance of reporting all hives to Local Land Services.
"If everyone told us the truth we would be in a far better position," he said. "We don't care if the hives are unregistered or diseased. We need to get on top of varroa.
"DPI hasn't established exactly how the mite got in to Australia and are now saying possibly it first showed up at Williamtown on December 21, but let's let them finish the investigation before we point fingers. Meanwhile the biosecurity effort is changing all the time and then we get a spanner in the works like Nana Glen that sets us back by weeks."
Read more: Berry Quest draws a crowd
Read more: Feedlots take foot off the throttle
Approximately 5000 honeybee hives are needed for the pollination of blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, avocados and macadamias in Coffs Harbour from now until the end of September, and DPI will continue working closely with industry on the best solutions.
Sandy Beach horticulturalist Kellie Potts met with Minister for Agriculture Dugald Saunders on Tuesday to discuss the impact of varroa mite on her mixed production farm.
"We have already pollinate our winter crop of blueberries using native bees but like all other berry producers we have yet to pollinate our summer crop," she said.
Mr Saunders said with FMD and LSD on our doorstep, it's a timely reminder for livestock producers to ensure their farm biosecurity plans are up to date.
"Farm biosecurity plans are the foundation of our State's preparedness when it comes to new animal and plant diseases," Mr Saunders said. "These can be simple measures built into day-to-day operations that will help protect your farm."
Primary producers will have the opportunity to provide feedback on a NSW Government plan to safeguard the State's $21 billion food and fibre industry, as part of an upgraded biosecurity strategy.
Minister for Agriculture Dugald Saunders said the purpose of the strategy is to set a clear vision for biosecurity and food safety in NSW.
"The NSW Biosecurity and Food Safety Strategy 2022-2030 will be our blueprint for protecting the livelihoods, economy and environment against biosecurity and food safety risks," Mr Saunders said. "Biosecurity and food safety are shared responsibilities and everybody's business.
"Recent outbreaks of Foot and Mouth Disease and Lumpy Skin Disease in Indonesia and varroa mite in NSW have shown us the critical need to be prepared, now and into the future.
"We have been working hard to build NSW's capability and capacity to manage risk, invest in tools and technologies, and improve how we work together so we can better prevent and respond to threats and minimise any negative impacts.
"Your feedback will help create a strategy we can deliver together to help fortify our community."
The strategy demonstrates a strong commitment to protecting NSW from biosecurity and food safety threats and builds on the government's record investment of $163.9 million in biosecurity protection announced in the 2022-23 State Budget.
Meanwhile Beekeepers and horticulturalists on the Mid North Coast will be given up to the minute information regarding the latest Varroa mite outbreak during an information session on Saturday from 4pm at the Coffs Harbour showgrounds. Producers can help by reporting suspect or unusual pests and diseases to NSW DPI online or by calling the NSW DPI Biosecurity Helpline, 1800 680 244. The draft NSW Biosecurity and Food Safety Strategy 2022-2030 is open for input at www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/draft-bfs-strategy.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.