June 18, 2013
A commercial Victorian beekeeper has been convicted and fined $8,700 for contravening a quarantine notice, exposing infected hive material and failing to maintain detailed records of chemical use.
The offences occurred in a number of locations across Victoria, including along the Mornington Peninsula and at Boundary Bend in the Sunraysia district.
The Frankston Magistrates Court heard the beekeeper had failed to comply with a quarantine notice requiring him to move infected hives to an agreed location and retain them in quarantine pending further inspection.
The man was also ordered to pay costs of $4519.32.
In delivering her judgment, the Magistrate said the man had committed a serious breach of Victoria’s quarantine legislation.
Charges against the man were laid following the discovery by Department of Environment and Primary Industries (DEPI) apiary inspectors of American Foul Brood (AFB) in 72 hives he was using in a commercial pollination service to the Victorian horticulture industry.
In commenting on the seriousness of the man’s actions, the Magistrate noted DEPI inspectors had attempted on a number of occasions to ensure he complied with their directions.
In addition to breaching the quarantine notice, the man was also convicted of failing to retain detailed records of his use of Oxytetracycline Hydrochloride (OTC), a prescription remedy used to treat European Foul Brood Disease (EFB), not the AFB found in the man’s hives.
AFB, a notifiable disease under the Livestock Disease Control Act 1994, is a bacterium that infects bee larvae. Beekeepers suspecting the presence of AFB in their hives must notify the department within 12 hours>
Honey produced in hives infected by AFB does not pose a risk to human health.
Once present, AFB spreads rapidly through hives as bees, attempting to remove spore-laden dead larvae, contaminate hive materials.
Honey in infected hives becomes affected with AFB spores and, as the colony weakens, bees from other hives can opportunistically enter, taking diseased honey back to their hives.
AFB is controlled and eradicated by the isolation and immediate destruction of infected hives by fire.
DEPI Senior Apiary Officer Joe Riordan said the department was committed to enforcing the law given the crucial role bees play in pollination across the state and to protect responsible beekeepers in the industry.
“The apiary industry provides bees to Victoria’s large orchards for the purpose of pollination, as well as producing honey for the retail market,” Mr Riordan said.
“If our agricultural sector is to remain healthy, the wellbeing of our state’s bee population is paramount.”