Beekeepers providing pollinating services to blueberry producers in the Coffs Harbour region are the target of a biosecurity compliance operation by NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) all 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.
“We will be carrying out inspections to ensure beekeepers are complying with the Biosecurity Act. We will be looking for any breaches of hive management, unregistered operators or operators who have failed to report notifiable diseases,” Mr Day said.
“We also will be 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.
"Abandoned hives can encourage the spread of notifiable diseases and pests due to the potential for them to harbour diseases such as American Foulbrood (or AFB).”
During the operation, DPI biosecurity officers will inspect hives for AFB and action will be taken for failure to notify and failure to correctly identify brood boxes.
October is AFB Awareness Month and DPI is strongly encouraging all beekeepers across NSW – both commercial and recreational – to get out and inspect their hives.