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CEO Update June 2024

21 June 2024

Conference season is upon us with many of the state conferences hosting incredible speakers and disseminating information across the country. Varroa has been the hot topic for many conferences with […]

Conference season is upon us with many of the state conferences hosting incredible speakers and disseminating information across the country. Varroa has been the hot topic for many conferences with speakers providing advice, opinions and experiences on Varroa management from a diverse range of backgrounds and perspectives.

Last month I attended the National Plant Biosecurity Research Initiative where I was the key note speaker delivering messaging about the lessons learnt from the Varroa response.  This was well received with many follow up conversations with the department particularly around the lack of recovery support for beekeepers.  I also attended the AgriFutures Levied Industry Forum where our Deputy Chair – Jon Lockwood provided a sobering update to the audience around the challenges our industry is facing.

Industry Awards and Deserved Recognition

The Goodacre Memorial Award this year was awarded to Neil Bingley for his decades of commitment and service to the honey bee industry.  Neil has served in many leadership roles across the industry including Chair of the NSWAA, NSW AHBIC delegate, PCF representative and AgriFutures Honey Bee and Pollination advisory panel member.  Very well deserved and congratulations.


A big congratulations to our a long standing AHBIC friend, Frank Lindsay ONZM, who was recently awarded the New Zealand Order of Merit, for services to the apicultural industry.  Frank has been attending many of our Australian conferences for as long as I have been involved in the industry.  He is always the guy at the back of the room with big smile and filming the conference!! He has a wealth of knowledge and has contributed enormously to the NZ and Australian beekeeping industries.  Congratulations and well deserved Frank!

Another big congratulations to the Wheen Bee Foundation who have won the coveted global prize for outstanding achievements in the preservation, promotion and research of bees and other pollinators.  Wheen Bee CEO Fiona Chambers travelled to Slovenia to accept the Golden Bee Award on behalf of the foundation. Congratulations Fiona!

Varroa transition to management program

The program establishment has been consuming much of AHBIC’s time.  Pushing to get the program structure established, ensuring delivery of training is occurring and VDO’s are being recruited has been a priority for Bianca and I over the last few months.

Workshops across NSW have been well received with workshops soon to be rolled out across Vic, SA and Tassie in Spring.  QLD and WA are working through the recruitment process of trainers and VDO’s.  The next ‘train the trainer’ event is scheduled for the end of June in Melbourne with over 50 trainers, VDO’s and department officials registered to attend.  This will set the framework for all the people involved in extension to delivering consistent messaging.

Varroa continues to spread slowly across NSW with reports of infestations outside of the Newcastle area, but importantly no reports of mites in other states.

Border restrictions

AHBIC continues to push the jurisdictions for clarity around the rules for boarder movements coming into spring.  Victoria have announced their permit conditions of beekeepers moving from NSW to Vic with restriction remaining in place on NSW hives moving into QLD and SA.  Movement of hives between varroa-free states is occurring under permit.

Brisbane A. cerana detections

In addition to the A. cerana detection in the port of Brisbane there has been a new detection at Townsville.  This is separate form the Port of Brisbane detection and QDAFF are working to determine if it is from the existing Cairns population or a new incursion.  Initial genomics suggest that there is a level of inbreeding suggesting that it is most likely a colony from the Cairns population.  No mites or viruses have been detected in the Townsville detection.

Red Dwarf Honey Bee in WA

This response continues with over 30 colonies found and destroyed all within a 2 km radius.  At this stage it appears the detection is isolated to the peninsula.  Lack of water resources beyond the peninsula appears to the reason for it not spreading.

Imported Honey

Jon Lockwood has been delivering an excellent presentation to many of the state conferences explaining the ‘multi-pronged’ approach to tackling imported honey and the honey markets in general.  This has been recorded and posted on the VAA YouTube channel. I encourage every beekeeper how is not attending the conference to watch the recording.

Resilient Beekeeping Varroa Podcast series

AHBIC in partnership with AgriFutures Australia have released an interview & podcast series, led by our very own Bianca Giggins who interviews six global leaders in honey bees about various topics.  These podcasts have been very well received and are another great resource for beekeepers to sharpen their knowledge of Varroa.  The podcasts can be found here at the AHBIC website under the Varroa hub tab. Take a look at the Slowing the spread factsheet in the June newsletter compilation:

The Month Ahead

The AHBIC AGM will be held on the 10th July at Townsville followed by the Queensland Beekeepers Association conference which will round out the conferences for 2024.

AHBIC will continue to be focused on the varroa transition to management program, the A. cerana and A. florea detections, imported honey, resource access and lobbying, and no doubt the many new jobs from motions at our AGM!!

Danny Le Feuvre