NSW beekeepers outside of varroa mite eradication zones are beginning to work their hives again after some restrictions, put in place to contain the varroa mite, were eased.
The mite has been found in 38 properties in NSW, with new detections at the weekend at Jerrys Plains, Denman and Heatherbrae in the Hunter region.
The mite, which was first identified during routine surveillance at the Port of Newcastle on 22 June, has also been found along the central coast, around Bulahdelah on the north coast, and at a property at Narrabri in the north west of the NSW.
As of Monday 1567 hives had been euthanised, with more than 15 million bees destroyed.
A statewide emergency order remains in place in NSW which stops hives being moved, but beekeepers outside of eradication zones can now work their hives, removing frames for honey extraction as well as place empty supers on full hives.
While beekeepers impacted by floodwaters are permitted to move their hives if they are in a flood watch or warning area until Sunday 17 July.
Danny Le Feuvre from the Australian Honey Bee Industry Council welcomed the latest changes to the emergency order.
“Beekeepers have been really compliant with the standstill order, and it’s really important that we can encourage beekeepers back in the field and working bees again.”
“Beekeepers are allowed to extract their honey as long as they adhere to the conditions as described in the new order,” Mr Le Feuvre said.
“Obviously the do not tend order still applies to bees in the red zone..which have been identified as having varroa mite,” he told AAP.
The changes follows confirmation that $18 million in compensation is available for beekeepers affected by the varroa mite outbreak.
The package will see registered commercial beekeepers reimbursed for all equipment, hives and bees that are destroyed in the eradication process, as well as the costs of honey.
Mr Le Feuvre said both commercial and recreational beekeepers will be compensated.
“It’s a great relief for industry, that all beekeepers will now be able to apply to have the costs of eradication reimbursed,” he told AAP.
He said authorities are still hopeful they can eradicate the mite.
“The area is growing in size but at this stage we’re still confident that we can contain it, and then work through the eradication process.”
The NSW Government said it’s putting on an additional 26 compliance and surveillance officers to manage risk to facilitate key pollination events and ensure business continuity.