LIQUID GOLD: Along with producing quality honey bees play an important part in agriculture.

Photo Tom Threadingham / Gatton Star
LIQUID GOLD: Along with producing quality honey bees play an important part in agriculture. Photo Tom Threadingham / Gatton Star Photo Tom Threadingham / Gatton

Operation targets beekeepers, blueberry growers

BEEKEEPERS providing pollinating services to blueberry growers on the Coffs Coast are the target of a biosecurity operation by the NSW Department of Primary Industries this week.

With the North Coast producing 80 per cent of Australia's blueberries, each year the crops are provided with pollination services from both large and small commercial apiarists over the flowering period.  

DPI Director of Compliance, Biosecurity and Food Safety, Peter Day said with the increasing number of blueberry varieties now being planted, bees are being placed in crops for extended periods with varying levels of management.

He said the inspections are being undertaken to ensure beekeepers are complying with the Biosecurity Act, and to look for any breaches of hive management, unregistered operators or operators who have failed to report notifiable diseases.

They have also been taking 'appropriate action' on any abandoned, neglected or diseased hives.

"Weakened hives as a result of disease or poor management can become a source for infection and can also prevent the hives from providing adequate bee numbers for effective pollination," Mr Day said.

"Abandoned hives can encourage the spread of notifiable diseases and pests due to the potential for them to harbour diseases such as American Foulbrood."

During the operation, which ends Saturday, DPI biosecurity officers have been inspecting hives for AFB and taking actions for failure to notify and failure to correctly identify brood boxes.

AFB is the most serious brood disease of honey bees in NSW and is a notifiable disease under the Biosecurity Act. Early and accurate diagnosis of this disease is essential if control is to be effective.

For more information on requirements for beekeeping in NSW, visit the DPI website at www.dpi.nsw.gov.au



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