Update on the ANBA Varroa Response Program – Jan 23

Update on the ANBA Varroa Response Program
by Anne Dollin Chair of the ANBA Varroa Response Subcommittee
The NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) is now actively using the toxic pesticide, Fipronil, to bait feral European honeybees in most of their Varroa Mite Red Zones, including parts of Newcastle. To see which areas currently being baited, visit:

Wild European Honey Bee Management Program (nsw.gov.au)

Our ANBA Varroa Response Program is now in operation. We advise beekeepers who have stingless bees in any of the DPI Red Zones to consider moving their hives, themselves, as soon as possible, to a safe location outside the Red Zones. However, ANBA help is available
for stingless bee keepers who wish to move their hives, but do not have a safe place to take their hives. For full details, visit: https://www.anba.org.au/varroa-response/.

Our warm thanks go to Diane Norris of the ANBA Mid North Coast branch, who has worked hard over the Christmas break to accept some more stingless bee hives from the Newcastle Red Zones and foster them in a safe location.

As far as we know at present, the risk to native stingless bees from the DPI Varroa Mite eradication work may be two-fold:

A) Fipronil poisoning. The DPI is using Fiponil pesticide in baiting stations to kill feral nests of European honeybees in the Red Zones. Strict protocols are in place to prevent native bees accessing these baiting stations. However, native stingless bees may still be affected if they collect pesticide-contaminated honey from feral European honeybee nests which have been killed by the baiting. This risk will continue for up to three years. Stingless bees may be more likely to seek honey from a dead nest at times when natural flowers are scarce in an area. So stingless bees could still be poisoned by this pesticide many months after the actual baiting program itself has finished.

B) South African Small Hive Beetle attack Small Hive Beetles are an exotic pest of bees, now common on the east coast of NSW. See: https://www.aussiebee.com.au/small_hive_beetle.html . I have heard a report that Small Hive Beetles seem to be more aggressively attacking stingless bee colonies in the DPI Red Zones since the European honeybee hives in those areas were euthanised. This could be because the Small Hive Beetles had fewer of their preferred European honeybee hives to attack, so they instead were targeting stingless bees.

The ANBA would like to monitor and research the effects of the eradication program on native bees. Could you let me know if you see, in a DPI Red Zone, a stingless bee hive or natural nest that appears to have been affected by the DPI baiting or by Small Hive Beetles? Please email me at: varroa@anba.org.au.

Members of the ANBA Varroa eradication subcommittee
Chair: Anne Dollin, Email: varroa@anba.org.au
Secretary: Tim Heard, 0434 416053, Email: tim.heard@anba.org.au
Diane Norris diane.beewild@gmail.com
Monica Rich, monicarich00@gmail.com
Sam Higgins sam.higgins@outlook.com.au
Media contact: Dani Lloyd Prichard, dani@timetobee.com.au
Elaine Bean. elaine.bean77@gmail.com
Ian Driver ian.driver@anba.org.au

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