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Apiarists and lucerne growers warned of pest threat

Date 22 January 2013

Biosecurity SA has warned bee diseases and exotic predators could be imported into our state during the current lucerne pollination season unless bee-health certificates are confirmed.

Chief Biosecurity Officer, Dr Rob Rahaley, said that all Victorian apiarists bringing hives into South Australia must have health certificates for their bees from the Victorian Department of Primary Industries, confirming they are free from notifiable honeybee pests and diseases such as Small Hive Beetle and American Foulbrood bacteria.

“Small Hive Beetle, which attacks bee colonies, is widespread throughout Victoria but is not yet established in our state and we want to keep it that way,” Dr Rahaley said. “Vigilance by pollinators helps protect growers and apiarists alike.”

“To protect themselves and South Australian apiarists, lucerne growers should always ask to see Victorian apiarists’ health certification specific to the property that they are going to pollinate.

“Also, apiarists must immediately notify Biosecurity SA if they detect or suspect the presence of either American Foulbrood or Small Hive Beetle in their hives, and must ensure that hives, hive components and bee products are not exposed to robbing.

“Robbing occurs when bees access and collect honey from dead or weak hives, hive components or extraction equipment left exposed to bees.

“Diseased, weak bees, or hives exposed to robbing don’t pollinate lucerne effectively. It’s in the grower’s interest to ensure that all hives on their property, and neighbouring properties, are being managed professionally.”

President of the South Australian Apiarists’ Association, Ian Roberts, said his association supported certification requirements for imported hives and encouraged any lucerne grower having difficulty obtaining hives for pollination to contact the association on 0407 219 204 or email:

Lucerne Australia’s Executive Officer, Nicola Raymond, encourages growers to assess hive management, report any neglected or abandoned apiaries to Biosecurity SA, and to use the services of crop consultants to advise on bee counts and insecticide application.

Biosecurity SA says growers and spray applicators should ensure all insecticide applications are bee-safe. Measures include advising apiarists before spraying, heeding label warnings concerning applications during flowering, using least toxic insecticides, spraying when bees are not foraging, and not allowing spray or spray drift to reach hives or in-apiary water supplies.