In the darkness of this early autumn morning an email arrives from my beekeeper mate, Tom in Australia, with alarming news of honeybee colony eradication in New South Wales in response to a varroa mite infestation.
In late June, varroa mites, one of the most destructive pests in honeybee populations worldwide, were detected in New South Wales, Australia. The continent was previously largely free of the pest. The government’s first response has been to eradicate all managed honeybee hives within a 10 kilometer/5 mile radius of any infected site. The honey, wax and pollen products are also being destroyed in an effort to “halt the infestation.” Next, they have moved on to eradicate feral colonies of honeybees in the same zone using pesticide bait stations that are “designed to only attract and euthanize wild honeybees…with a very low risk that some native bees may be affected”.