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CEO Update April 2024

29 April 2024

I have been lucky enough to have a couple of weeks break in April to reset and recharge.  Thanks to Bianca, Stephen and Jon for covering whilst I was away.  […]

I have been lucky enough to have a couple of weeks break in April to reset and recharge.  Thanks to Bianca, Stephen and Jon for covering whilst I was away.  My wife and I had an amazing trip to Cambodia working with a charity using agriculture to break the poverty cycle.  Worlds away from Varroa!! 

Over the last month AHBIC has been focused on the Transition to Management along with providing oversight and ILO activities for both the Queensland Asian Honey Bee incursion and the Red Dwarf Honey Bee detection in the west.  

We continue to put pressure on the jurisdictions to provide industry with their plans for boarder movements now we are transitioning. It is frustrating for everyone that we still do not have any clarity as to what Spring will look like for beekeepers. We will keep applying pressure to jurisdictions to publicly inform industry of boarder movement restrictions. 

AHBIC has regained membership to the ACCC’s Agriculture Consultive Committee which is an important step in keeping honey and mislabeling in front of mind for the ACCC.  We have also applied for membership of the DAFF non-prescribed foods export reform committee to ensure that any modernisation of export systems for honey, actually benefits our exporters and doesn’t create additional red tape.  

National R&D forum 

Over 60 honey bee researchers, beekeepers and funders came together in Canberra to workshop and priorities the R&D needs in the face of Varroa.  This workshop was an important initiative that was made possible by the AgriFutures Honey Bee and Pollination Advisory panel to understand what research is underway where are the gaps and what are the priorities.  

This facilitated workshop will produce a R&D National Varroa Strategic Plan that will be circulated to gain broader industry feedback before being finalised and used to guide industry investments. This is first time this type of coordinated approach has been used to develop the plan. To have your input, please complete the form: We look forward to being able to communicate the draft outcomes with industry as soon as it becomes available. 

National Bee Breeding Workshop 

On the back of the R&D workshop a National Bee Breeding Workshop was also held with the aim of producing a National Bee Breeding Strategic plan.  This will help achieve a collective approach to identifying and improving Varroa resistant stock in Australia and also improve genetic gains generally.  

Similarly to the R&D strategy the facilitators will draft a strategic plan that we will be able to circulate broadly around industry for consultation.  This plan will help guide investment and assist AHBIC in lobbying for additional investment in our industry.  Again, we thank the support from the AgriFutures Honey Bee and Pollination Advisory Panel for enabling the workshop. 

Launching of the AgriFutures/AHBIC webinar and podcast series 

In a collaboration between AHBIC and AgriFutures we have launched a section on the AHBIC website that will host a growing suite of Varroa focused resources. Initially it will include a new interview with an expert each week for six weeks and factsheets that have been produced by the team that produced the Resilient Beekeeping in the Face of Varroa publication.   

We hope to be able to keep updating the website section as new information becomes available from different research projects.  Well done to the Agrifutures team and Bianca from AHBIC in getting this resource developed. 

The 5th Australian Bee Congress 

At a recent AHBIC member body meeting it was agreed that AHBIC will host the next national congress in 2026.  We are in the process of establishing a sub-committee to begin the process of selecting a venue and planning the congress.  We are excited about the prospects of the next congress, and we will aim to make it the best congress yet!! 

Varroa Response and Levies 

All AHBIC member bodies have unanimously agreed to begin the process of proposing a 1 cent per kilogram of honey sold levy increase.  This increase will be used to pay the 1.1% of the Varroa response costs that the honey bee industry is responsible for.  It was agreed that the increase would be temporary and will be removed as soon as sufficient funds were raised to pay the debt. 

This may seem unfair that we are required to pay for a response that caused significant impacts to many in the industry. However, as part of the Emergency Pest Response Deed that we as an industry signed up to many years ago, we have legal responsibility to pay our share. Since AHBIC’s extensive work to achieve re-catergorisation last year for varroa destructor, the share and proportion has significantly reduced as the Government is responsible for paying 80% of the costs and the 16 industry parties responsible for the remaining 20%.  Each industry parties share is calculated based on Gross Value of Production (GVP) resulting in the honey bee industry paying 1.1% of the total cost. 

Senate Inquiry into the Biosecurity Protection Levy 

AHBIC has united with many primary industries in opposing the proposed federal biosecurity protection levy due to be imposed in July this year. AHBIC witnessed at the recent senate inquiry explaining to the committee of senators the inequities in the government proposal.  

Key points raised were the lack of consultation from government, the proposed calculations of contributions and the inequity of the levy collection in our industry. 

The Month Ahead 

Jon Lockwood, as acting Chair, and myself will be attending the AgriFutures Levied and emerging industry forum next week. This will be an opportunity to provide feedback to AgriFutres and build stronger connections with other like minded industries.   

The first of the many conferences start with NSWAA on 22nd May which we will be attending followed shortly by many of the other AHBIC member body’s conferences.  Check the AHBIC website for a list of dates. 

Towards the end of next month(May), the next round of Plant Health Australia member meetings and all the associated meetings around that will be held in Sydney. This is an opportunity to again connect with other plant industries but also provide feedback to PHA. 


Danny LeFeuvre