TAMWORTH was set to be a hive of activity on Wednesday as apiarists from across the state were scheduled to gather for the annual NSW Apiarists' Association conference.
However, the COVID-19 pandemic forced the event, which coincided with World Bee Day, to be postponed until next year.
The association's Tamworth branch president Ray Hull said the cancellation was the latest in a long line of setbacks for the industry.
"The drought has taken a massive toll on us over the past couple of years and the bushfires on top of that has made it really hard," Mr Hull said.
"In this area, the bee keepers drought is just starting because trees take several years to bud and the established trees we have been relying on have stopped, and it takes anywhere from three to five years for new trees to take over.
"We had nominated to host the event this year, but because of the pandemic it's been pushed back until next year, so it's not too bad."
Federal agriculture minister David Littleproud said pests and diseases also posed major risks to Australian bee species'.
"Australia is home to over 1,500 species of native bees, the vast majority of which are actually solitary species," he said.
"Pests and diseases of bees not only have the potential to devastate bee colonies, but may also impact on the health of native plants should our bees be unable to pollinate them.
"The recent summer of bushfires and drought have had a significant impact on our floral reserves and on pollinators.
"As part of the recovery, beekeepers are currently eligible for grants of up to $75,000 to pay for clean-up and business reinstatement activities."
The winter months usually prompt bee keepers to transport their bees to more conducive climates.
However, Mr Hull said the coronavirus crisis had prevented apiarists from relocating their hives.
"We normally go to the channel country this time of year and we were considered an essential service so we were allowed to cross the borders," he said.
"However, none of the locals really wanted you there, which was understandable.
"I think that would have put a lot of the hobby guys off, while full-time guys are feeding their bees at the moment, which comes at a cost.
"Normally, bees could look after themselves pretty well, but this year they just can't and so many hobby farmers have lost bees and the full-time bee keepers are hurting too."
Mr Hull said everyone could play a major part in helping the bee population.
"It can be as simple as just planting things in your backyard," he said.
"As well as that, staying away from dangerous chemicals is another good way to go."