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Chair Report – December 2023

12 December 2023

Acting Chair – Jon Lockwood The last two months have been another very busy period for AHBIC. Before I was involved as an executive of AHBIC I did not realise […]

Acting Chair – Jon Lockwood

The last two months have been another very busy period for AHBIC.

Before I was involved as an executive of AHBIC I did not realise the importance and the volume of work required of the organisation, we are lucky to have our CEO and Varroa Coordinator passionately working hard for our industry. Acting Chair for the last few months, has highlighted to me the intensity of this roll, I give acknowledgement and credit to the work of our current Chair and previous AHBIC Chairs.

Transition to Management and CCEPP

As we are moving toward a formal transition to management phase of the response, NSW DPI have distributed over 43000 miticide strips to over 140 beekeepers that have formally identified mites at threshold levels. Being that Bayvarol is the treatment being issued, at 4 strips per hive, this equates to over 10,000 beehives being treated for Varroa destructor management. NSW DPI have stated that the free supply of treatments will cease in the near future.

There are reports from several suppliers that various treatment options have arrived in the country, and they are readily available for sale to NSW beekeepers. Currently available chemicals are supplied under emergency use permit with New Zealand labelling until they become fully registered products under the APVMA and eventually will be produced and provided with Australian labelling. Our AHBIC Industry Updates have a comprehensive table of approved chemical treatments which is reviewed regularly to reflect changes that take effect.

Please adhere to the terms of the emergency permit, the permit outlines the lawful product use. Many questions around treatment methods using oxalic acid are being asked from industry. Please note, AHBIC are actively engaged in work to push the registration process and will be publishing a factsheet explaining details regarding oxalic acid in the coming weeks when further information is available.

The CCEPP will meet again on the 19th of December. The transition to management package is close to being approved after a rigorous drafting process to get it right, it is hoped that agreement unanimously will soon be reached by all parties as soon as possible. Education will be a large focus, with aims to begin roll out Nationally in the new year. AHBIC is expecting all beekeepers in Australia will have an opportunity to access and participate in the training content and materials to upskill those willing to learn.

Monitoring and State Borders

Monitoring may feel like a laborious task but is the new way of life in Australian beekeeping. Whether it is to identify a new infestation or determine varroa numbers in your hives, regular and consistent monitoring by alcohol wash, soapy water wash or sugar rolling is now a crucial activity for beekeepers here in Australia.

There are reports from industry the State boarder restrictions are having adverse effects on business continuity. Bees not being able to cross boarders impacts beekeepers that would usually relocate, seeking good conditions and carrying out their regular business activities. AHBIC are regularly involved in State boarder conversations and advocate for the best business outcomes while being respectful to each of the jurisdictional biosecurity protocols.

Honey Production

Honey prices are concerningly low. With exceptions from some areas, our National production has reportedly been high, creating a surplus of product domestically and unfortunately importations remain constant, AHBIC continues to actively address this issue.

Despite a very tough year of challenges and uncertainty for a lot of our industry, I sincerely wish you a Merry Christmas and hope the New Year to come will bring you and your family prosperity.

Jon Lockwood
Acting Chair