ONE beekeeper has warned of biosecurity risks as well as food and agricultural impacts after NSW floods claimed thousands of bees.
Southern Highlands beekeeper Hamish Ta-mé could not get to his hives in the worst of conditions.
Six hives were "physically washed away and knocked over", and he has been busy managing the situation ever since.
Mr Ta-mé, from Bowral Beekeeping, has spent days checking his hives that were waterlogged or underwater. In the worst cases, he has been forced to "euthanise" the bees.
He was lucky that his friend and fellow beekeeper Darryn McKay was able to access the apiary and rescue the hives, but not all survived.
"It's a horrible, heartbreaking thing - there's a pile of bees we're fishing out of hives from the creek, it is the saddest thing," he said.
His apiary has been inundated with water, where debris has been also washed in.
The beekeeper discovered all manner of items in the water - a trampoline, dog kennel and even gardening furniture.
Mr Ta-mé, who runs workshops and classes and helps people set up their own hives at home, has also been in damage control with his clients.
He said one of his clients lost five colonies of bees and another lost one, with an estimation of 70,000 insects per colony.
"I'm racing around madly doing emergency feeding and talking to beekeepers and giving them emergency food for a few weeks," he said.
"It's not just the floods, it's also the sustained cold weather and rain. The flowers have nectar washed out, so there isn't any food for the bees."
He said one of his clients had bees that were "starved to death surrounded by flowers".
Mr Ta-mé estimated between 15 and 20 per cent of the district's bees have been lost in the last three weeks.
Less bees meant there would be a reduction in pollinators, which would impact the food and agricultural industry.
He said the water damage could also create biosecurity risks, and encourage pests and diseases.
"Time is of the essence, people need to respond within days," he said.
The beekeeper encouraged people with hives at home to monitor them, put feeders tray on top and make sure sugar syrup was at the ready.
He said if a hive feels "physically light", it was likely there was no honey inside and sugar syrup would be needed.
Anyone who has bees at home can contact Hamish on 0428 294 569 or by e-mailing email@example.com.
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