Don't let bees get caught in locust crossfire

Don't let bees get caught in locust crossfire

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THE Department of Primary Industries (DPI) has written to Victorian beekeepers, urging them to move hives from areas where chemical treatment of locusts is planned.

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THE Department of Primary Industries (DPI) has written to Victorian beekeepers, urging them to move hives from areas where chemical treatment of locusts is planned.

The letter warns beekeepers that chemical treatments used against locusts can be lethal for bees.

The Victorian Government has announced a $43.5 million package to combat what could be the biggest locust plague in 75 years. If untreated, it is estimated the locust damage bill on Victorian agriculture could be as high as $2 billion.

Government is working with stakeholders, including beekeepers, to minimise the threat posed by locusts to Victoria’s agricultural industries.

Executive Director of Biosecurity Victoria within DPI, Dr Hugh Millar said chemicals used to treat locusts could be hazardous or even lethal for bees, and beekeepers should be prepared.

“Beekeepers are an important part of the agricultural sector. We want to work in partnership with beekeepers to ensue they are informed and take early action to minimise the impact on their industry,” Dr Millar said.

“Spraying could take place from early October and beekeepers should be aware of what is planned in areas where they may have hives.

“We urge beekeepers to move bees, where possible, from areas where spraying is expected. Beekeepers should ensure their hives are clearly labelled to ensure that landholders can contact them prior to any spraying activity.

“It would be advisable for beekeepers to keep in contact with the owners of any land on which they place their hives, if in areas where spraying may take place.

“Beekeepers should also note that locust treatments can remain active for up to 28 days.

“I would urge beekeepers to get further information from the DPI locust website or the Locust hotline. With good co-operation between the Government, landholders and beekeepers we believe the risks can be managed.”

The Government is providing a 100 per cent rebate for landholders to cover the costs of chemical treatment of locusts, ordering $4.2 million worth of chemicals to treat locusts on public land and establishing incident control centres in affected parts of regional Victoria.

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