Fresh alarm on bees

TASMANIAN beekeepers are on high alert after the discovery of second small hive beetle in Devonport last week.

The detection of a live beetle on May 3, comes after an initial detection of single dead beetle early last month.

This latest detection is within 1.4km of the initial detection in a guard hive at the Devonport Port in early March.

While Biosecurity Tasmanian said this detection does not indicate that small hive beetle is established in Tasmania, there are now fears more of the invasive pests may be present here.

Tasmanian Beekeepers Association president Lindsay Bourke said if small hive beetle did become established it would have a huge and potentially devastating impact on the industry.

“We’ve never had them before and now we’ve found two now, so I really hope Biosecurity Tasmania will really concentrate on that area now,” he said.

On March 12, Biosecurity Tasmania placed a moratorium on the opening of beehives, harvest of honey and honeycomb, and movement of beekeeping equipment in the 15km Bee Move- ment Restriction Area.

On April 21, the 15km Bee Move- ment Restriction Area, as declared in the General Biosecurity Direction, was reduced to a 10km radius.

All beekeepers within the 10km Bee Movement Restriction Area are asked to avoid opening hives.

Small hive beetle is present in mainland states, but Mr Bourke said Tasmania’s short honey production season means it would have a significant impact here.

“They’re shocking things, they’re really, really bad,” he said.

During the production season here, many smaller beekeeper generally collect honey from various sites, then when they have enough volume, they extract the honey from the combs.

However, if small hive beetle is present, Mr Bourke said any honey must be extracted as soon as possible before the beetle larvae can hatch into maggots.

Mr Bourke said not having the beetle here allows Tasmanian beekeepers to breed up big hives at the beginning of the season to capture as much production as possible during short season.

“If that was interrupted we would be in trouble, because we wouldn’t get as many bee hives and we wouldn’t be able to get the hives as big, which means we wouldn’t be able to get the same amount of honey flow in that short period,” he said.

“That would be a disaster for us because the honey season only really happens here in January and February.”

Biosecurity Tasmania says beekeepers within the 10km Restriction Area can open beehives for feeding, honey harvest, remove supers or winter pack down, by contacting them on 6165 3777 to arrange a permit.