Merv McDonald, President of the Northern Rivers Amateur Beekeeping Association, has welcomed inspections by the NSW Department of Primary Industries.
Merv McDonald, President of the Northern Rivers Amateur Beekeeping Association, has welcomed inspections by the NSW Department of Primary Industries. The Northern Star

Beekeepers stung by pests

NORTHERN Rivers Amateur Beekeeping Association President, Merv McDonald, has welcomed a NSW Department of Primary Industries investigation into beehives in the district.

DPI officers will conduct random inspections of hives from Lismore to Bangalow in the next week. In particular, they are looking for American foulbrood, a bacterium disease that can wipe out 95 per cent of infected hives if they are not treated.

The disease poses a risk to all hives in a 3km radius of an infected hive because bees can take infected material back to their own hive.

DPI officer Mick Rankmore, who is part of the team conducting the investigations, said the team had a big job ahead.

“It's a big area to cover,” he said. “We're only going to scratch the surface, but it's an area the industry is concerned about. There are certain sites we need to look at.”

Mr Rankmore said so far they had found one infected hive in a paddock and had spoken to the landowner.

“Sometimes beehives can look infected, but when you get there and have a look they can be okay. This one looked okay, but when we checked it out it was diseased,” he said.

Merv McDonald said the other big problem for beekeepers was the hive beetle.

“It is a major problem,” Mr Mcdonald said.

“The hive beetle was introduced from South Africa and arrived around the time of the 2000 Olympics.”

It was first detected in the Sydney suburb of Richmond and has gradually moved north.

“It loves this area,” he said. “The more humid the weather, the worse it gets. It will multiply and multiply. It lays its eggs in the comb of the honey bee, and they hatch in two to six days. It takes over the hive eventually, causes a big mess in the hive and destroys the honey supply.”

Thirty-one apiarists also attended a presentation by Nick Annand, a specialist from Bathurst, at the DPI's Alstonville office on Monday night.

DPI senior regulatory officer Terry Grant said they would target unregistered hives and run a program to advise beekeepers on how to protect their hives.

The DPI and the Amateur Beekeeping Association are urging people with backyard hives to register them with the department.



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