Hunter beekeepers are optimistic a new compensation package will keep the industry alive as New South Wales grapples with the varroa mite crisis.

Both commercial and amateur beekeepers are eligible for reimbursement in the State Government’s new $18 million package, which will cover the costs of destroyed bees, hives, and equipment, as well as honey losses.

Australian Honey Bee Industry Council CEO Danny Le Feuvre says it’s a welcome measure, but not the only approach.

“It’s only one component of a much larger program that we’re doing,” he said. “We’ve got multiple different ways of supporting the industry.”

“We’re about to launch a public fundraising platform today through Hive Aid to try and also provide additional support to beekeepers.

“And it’s not just financial – these beekeepers have had to destroy some of the things they’ve been working towards for a long time. It’s not just financial support needed, it’s also emotional and mental support that as an industry we’re trying to provide.”

Close to 1,700 hives have been destroyed in the emergency eradication zones since the start of the incursion. 

Most recently the mite has been detected at Denman, Heatherbrae, and Jerrys Plains, though an order allowing hives in flood-affected or at-risk areas has been extended by another seven days.

The Agriculture Minister is confident, describing it as an “unbroken chain of infected premises”, with 38 properties in total now affected by the pest.

Mr Le Feuvre says the industry is also optimistic, but it’s a “game of waiting and seeing”.

“We’re working really hard on tracing,” he said. “There’s a really big focus at the moment on tracing and surveillance to try to find the edge of the incursion.”

“As we’re doing more tracing, we’re finding more detections, and that just shows that tracing’s really working.

“But even though we are finding detections, we’re going through thousands of hives that we’re not finding any mite at all.”