Beekeepers checking on hives are some of the first people into fire-ravaged forests, and are not prepared for the traumatic sights and sounds of wounded and suffering animals.
NSW Apiarists Association president Stephen Targett said the situation in north-eastern NSW was “truly devastating” to beekeepers and extremely traumatic.
“It’s doing their heads in, the screaming animals, the animals that are in pain, that are crying out in the forest, it’s absolutely horrific,” Mr Targett said.
“One beekeeper employs some young people and it has really traumatised them.
“So the beekeeper has arranged counselling for these young beekeepers who went into the forest and he won’t allow them back into the forest for a period of time.
Concern for mental health
The impact of the drought and now bushfires has worn beekeepers down.
More than a million hectares has burnt in NSW since the start of this year’s bushfire season, with hives and key foraging country for bees burnt out.
Peter Matthison from Elands, south-west of Port Macquarie, estimated he had lost 70 per cent of his hives and 90 per cent of the sites he used for his bees.