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Beekeeper calls for protection of wild hives

April 3, 2020

Beekeeper calls for protection of wild hives

JESSIE BAKER REMOVES A BEEHIVE FROM AN OLD HOUSE DUE FOR DEMOLITION. PHOTO: SUPPLIED.

An Auckland-based beekeeper is urging people to think twice before killing wild beehives that are already few in number and vulnerable to disease.

Jessie Baker knows of people attempting to remove beehives by pouring petrol into them, rather than call her to the rescue.

“It breaks my heart to hear that [the hives] get exterminated.

“No bees - no food. We need to keep our pollinators around, so humans can survive on planet Earth.”

Ms Baker removes wild hives from people’s backyards and around the community free of charge. She has rescued 66 hives since 2017

Her business, Bees Up Top, treats the hives for disease before renting them to people keen to learn about beekeeping, as well as enjoy a honey harvest.

“Bees can’t survive in the wild anymore without the help of humans,” says Ms Baker, who is planning this year to get volunteers on board to cope with the increasing number of callouts.

According to honeybee pest specialist Qinghai Fan, over the past 20 years the New Zealand wild bees population has been decimated by the varroa mite, a parasite that breeds on bee larvae and causes colonies to collapse.

“Feral hives can only last one to two years by themeslves. Generally, it’s very difficult for them to survive,” says Mr Fan.

He also shares the concern that wild beehives with varroa mite left untreated could spread the disease to other hives.

Ms Baker is well aware of the significance of helping wild bees.

“A lot of time, effort and cost goes into re-homing a feral hive, but it’s a risk we are willing to take because varroa can be treated.”

She says a lot more needs to be done to educate people about the importance of bees as pollinators, and not killing wild bees could be a good start.

“I would love to see a law passed in to make the extermination of bees illegal,” says Ms Baker.

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