New cases of a Varroa mite infestation in eastern NSW prompted mandatory surveillance of hives in Sydney for the first time since the outbreak began.
Authorities on Tuesday revealed the discovery of potentially destructive mites in six new hives at four locations including Mooney Mooney on the Central Coast, just north of Sydney.
It brings the total number of infested buildings to 137.
The eradication zone, within which all hives must be destroyed, now applies to the northern tip of Palm Beach in Sydney’s far north, according to a map on the Department for Primary Industries website.
The new rules also apply to any cells within an expanded surveillance area, where officials will monitor and conduct inspections to reduce the spread.
The new observation area reaches as far south as Hornsby in northern Sydney, and extends to Long Reef on the coast.
Other outbreaks have been detected in Clarencetown, Mitchells Flat and Bowral, all near Newcastle where the original outbreak was detected in June last year.
The new sites have low mite loads, which indicates they are very recent infestations, said Chris Anderson, the department’s state coordinator for Varroa mite response.
“The recent discovery on the central coast means that DPI is now focusing monitoring activities of the Varroa response in Sydney’s northern suburbs, to ensure that the infestation is localized and that there are no numbers of mites in the area,” said Dr Anderson. .
“DPI has also had to expand the (red) eradication area west of Stanhope, and west of Belhadelah, following new revelations in the mid-North Coast.”
Earlier this year, other states and territories reopened to bees from the majority of New South Wales after most of the state was declared free of the Varroa mite.
“Changes in the number of infected buildings are expected at this stage of the response, but what is encouraging is that these mites are found quickly,” said Dr. Anderson.
“We know this is a difficult time for affected beekeepers, but controlling and eradicating this destructive mite is critical to the state of New South Wales and Australia.”
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