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Norfolk Island Sentinel Bee Hive Program

Norfolk Island is now integrated within the National Bee Pest Surveillance Program (NBPSP), an early warning system coordinated by Plant Health Australia to detect new incursions of exotic bee pests.

The program on Norfolk Island involves a range of surveillance methods conducted at the sea and air ports considered to be the most likely entry points for bee pests.

The five sentinel bee hives across the island act as an early warning system to detect new incursions of exotic bee pests.

The sentinel hives are located at Ball Bay Reserve, Kingston Common Reserve, Government House, Cascade Road (on private land) near Cascade Pier, and Douglas Drive (private land) near Norfolk Island International Airport. These site locations were selected based on the frequency and location of incoming aircraft and sea vessels.

The project has been enabled by my Office and supported by volunteer local apiarists Clare McPherson and Merv Buffett, Norfolk Island Regional Council, the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment and Plant Health Australia to coordinate the surveillance program.

“It's fantastic to see Norfolk Island become part of the National Bee Pest Surveillance Program,” said Plant Health Australia Bee Pest Surveillance Coordinator Dr Jenny Shanks.

The Norfolk Island sentinel bee hives have been in place since 1 January 2020, with ongoing monitoring occurring on the 1st of the month by volunteer apiarists. Surveillance data is then shared with Plant Health Australia for coordination.

Depending on the time of year, different surveillance methods are conducted, ensuring minimal impact to hive health as hives are typically less active in winter and autumn months and more active in spring and summer months.

This forms part of the broader industry and community vision for Norfolk Island to become a ‘Sanctuary for Bees’—protecting the Norfolk Island bee population is imperative to the ongoing health of native flora and fauna into the future.

Local apiarists Merv Buffett and Clare McPherson said it was extremely important that people do not bring used bee keeping equipment or honey to the island.

“Untreated honey and used bee keeping equipment are huge risks to our local bee population if people bring these items to Norfolk Island, as they increase the likelihood of a bee pest or disease coming to Norfolk Island,” they said.

It is important to remember that strict biosecurity rules apply for the importation of honey and bee products to Norfolk Island.

The NBPSP is jointly funded by the Australian Honey Bee Industry Council, Hort Innovation, Grain Producers Australia and the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment. In-kind contributions for the implementation of the program are provided through each Australian state and territory as well as volunteer beekeepers. At a national level, Plant Health Australia coordinates and administers the program.

beekeepers tending hives

beekeepers tending hives

Photos: Bee Surveillance Norfolk Island

Eric Hutchinson
Administrator of Norfolk Island
May 2020