AHBIC’s time is still being consumed with the Varroa response. We have been focused on getting agreement to the transition to management plan to enable the rollout of broad scale training for beekeepers as quickly as possible. We are hopeful for CCEPP agreement in December and final sign-off from NMG in January.
AHBIC has been strongly advocating for training and education across the country, boots on the ground to support beekeepers across the country and a number of other activities including a national heat map, Coloss survey, updating of the CoP, queen breeding workshops and a queen breeding sector capacity and capability report.
Achieving agreement to the plan is slow as there are 26 votes from 26 parties that all have their individual requirements and needs.
Plant Health Australia AGM and associated meetings
I attended the PHA AGM in Canberra in November and met with several other plant industries. We had presentations on a number of topics across the week. DAFF presented on the proposed Biosecurity Protection Levy (BPL) which created robust discussion discussions from industries.
Unfortunately, it appears the consultation from the department is not considering if the levy should be applied but more around how it is applied and collected. Despite significant push back from AHBIC and many other industries it appears that it will be implemented in July. This will mean that an additional 10% increase in the honey levy is likely to be applied from July 2024.
Bee Connected App
In partnership with Croplife the Bee Connected app was relaunched in Canberra with some significant improvements making the app more beekeeper friendly. I encourage all beekeepers who do pollination or place hives near crops that are likely to be sprayed to check out the new look app https://beeconnected.org.au/.
Red Dwarf Honey Bee incursion in WA
The first Red Dwarf Honey Bee (RDHB) detection was in March 2023 at Dampier in Western Australia. There has been a total of 12 nests discovered to date. Euvarroa sinhai has been detected on many of the RDHB’s but has not been found on European honey bees yet. Euvarroa is a relative of Varroa destructor (the species found at Newcastle). It is unclear if this species of varroa can survive and reproduce on European honey bees with mixed reports in peer reviewed papers. Continual surveillance by DPIRD and DAFF is being conducted to delimit the incursion and monitor European honey bees in the area with 12 swarms being detected so far.
Imported Honey Fighting Fund
The fund has been receiving good support from beekeepers with a pool of money to start the testing of honey. The subcommittee will meet to decide on the specific testing protocols that will be used to ensure we can make the money stretch as far as possible without compromising the data. We have been gathering honey from different locations across the country ready for testing.
We have been working with DAFF to improve testing protocols but also discussing the potential for DWV to enter Australia through imported honey. There is some scientific work being conducted to determine if DWV can remain viable in honey.
Standards Australia and the International Standards Organisation
As previously discussed AHBIC has initiated the Australian membership of the international committee for honey standards. The Australian committee has met several times and worked through the international documents. Good progress in being made and when the committee is comfortable with final draft we will share the documents with wider industry for consultation.
AHBIC thanks the work of Liz Barbour who has been feeding the comments into the international committee. The Australian committee has revied the international royal jelly standard and are in the process of agreeing to circulate through industry to see if we will adopt here in Australia.
The Month Ahead
It has been an incredibly tough year for beekeepers across the country and perhaps one that many want to forget. AHBIC will be taking a break over Christmas, however we will continue to work to ensure agreement to the T2M plan and support beekeepers as best we can. The new year will continue to provide challenges for our industry, but AHBIC will work as hard as possible to minimise the challenges and help our industry get through the next couple of years.
I wish everyone a Safe and Merry Christmas.