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New South Wales beehives are being locked down

Australian almond harvest in danger as varroa mite is detected at Newcastle port

The discovery of the varroa mite at Newcastle port has led to NSW beehives being locked down. This could have a potentially devastating effect on crops. The arrival of the deadly parasite has had an immediate impact on apiaries, with a ban on movement across New South Wales. However, it will most likely also affect other agricultural industries, including the upcoming almond blossom season.

Every August, the almond industry requires 300,000 beehives to pollinate the national crop, which in effect represents the largest movement of livestock in the country. But under the emergency order issued on Sunday after the varroa mite was detected at the Port of Newcastle, no bees are allowed to be moved across NSW, which is home to 44% of the nation’s beehives.

Tim Jackson the CEO of the Almond Board of Australia says “the timing of the outbreak could not be worse for the almond industry”. He says the huge number of beehives required for the blossom event already goes close to “maxing out” all available commercial beehives of New South Wales, South Australia, Victoria and southern Queensland and any limitation on bee numbers could have a devastating effect.

Danny Le Feuvre, the acting CEO of the Australian Honeybee Industry Council, says the rapid rollout of restrictions would hopefully result in a swift containment of the mite and minimize the impact of the outbreak on major agricultural pollination events.


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