The specially designed app will assist in maintaining hive record information that satisfies the requirements of the National Biosecurity Code of Practice. The program is intended for small commercial and recreational beekeepers who sell honeybee products direct to:
Direct to consumers
Boutique shops, such as Bakeries, Fruit and Vegetable, Delicatessens, Restaurants and similar
The low annual fee includes the use of the hive management app and an annual desk audit.
Wow. What an introduction to the job as the new chair of AHBIC. Becoming the new chair at the AHBIC AGM on the 12th of Jun 22 I knew I had a steep learning curve in front of me. On the 21st of June I was informed that varroa mites had been positively identified at Newcastle port surveillance hives. By Saturday 25th June AHBIC had our acting CEO Danny Le Feuvre as an Industry Liaison Officer (ILO) at the State Control Centre (SCC) in Orange NSW. Obviously, the Newcastle varroa mite incursion has been AHBIC’s primary focus. For me the steep curve became vertical.
The lobbying and input that all our industry ILO’s have provided to DPI has been instrumental in working risk managed solutions being arrived at to allow most NSW beekeepers to maintain their businesses. Without these ILO’s the Owner Reimbursement of Costs (ORC) would be very much in the embryonic stage rather than being close for those beekeepers in the red zones being able to submit claims for reimbursement.
For all ILO’s including those at the Local Control Centre (LCC) a thank you for selflessly giving up time with your business, your families and your free time to help our industry through this crisis. There have been many volunteers both recreational and commercial beekeepers who have helped in work crews that industry also owe a big thank you to. Volunteers have come from every state.
I would like to thank Trevor Weatherhead OAM for his tireless work as the chair of AHBIC. Trevor has continued to mentor me and provide information and advice. Congratulations to Ben Mckee on his re-election to the executive of AHBIC. Ben has provided valuable input to AHBIC since the AGM. Congratulations to Jon Lockwood on being elected to the executive at the AGM. Jon has been quick to step up to the plate and has been an ILO and has provided insightful input at the several AHBIC meetings since the AGM. Therese Kershaw and Stephen Fewster continue to provide valuable input and have made me feel welcome as the new chair – thank you.
At the AGM the previous board had not finalised their selection for the new CEO. I asked the previous board to continue with the selection process (which was at the short list stage where I was invited to sit in on the final interviews) to find the most suitable CEO. As most people know Danny Le Feuvre was selected as the new CEO. I have great confidence in the panel that selected Danny was done so based purely on merit. Congratulations Danny. The executive has been blessed to have a CEO with extensive industry knowledge which Danny has used to the extreme in his many weeks as an ILO at the SCC providing input to NSW DPI.
Danny Le Feuvre was on the AHBIC executive and as CEO has resigned from the executive which means there is now one vacancy. Correspondence has gone out asking for nominations. There will shortly be an AHBIC member meeting where the new executive member will be elected.
For those with a longer memory, in June AHBIC hosted a successful congress at Rosehill racecourse in Sydney. Thank you to all those that helped make this event happen. It certainly was a team effort. There are many people to thank and that will happen next newsletter. However, three people who rate a BIG thank you are Dr Shona Blair, Elizabeth Frost and Therese Kershaw. AHBIC and industry thank you.
It has NOT been business as usual at AHBIC and for that I make no apology. AHBIC’s priority is this varroa incursion. AHBIC executive has been meeting to provide guidance to the CEO on the way forward with this incursion. AHBIC listened to our member bodies and instigated nightly information updates on the incursion which have now been reduced to three times a week. These zoom meetings achieve two things, keeping our member bodies informed and also giving feedback to AHBIC executive and CEO.
You may have heard that AHBIC is investigating getting secretarial support for the CEO. The CEO is working 7 days a week, at least 12 hours a day to stay across incursion response issues and cover the time critical AHBIC tasks. AHBIC executive and I appreciate the hours that Danny is putting in which is way more than his contract states. The Secretarial support will enable more timely updates on Facebook, website, Newsletters, commencing subcommittee meetings which have been on hold and typing up of many minutes. This will enable the CEO to continue to be across the incursion and progress other AHBIC priorities. Given AHBIC’s current finances the secretarial position will be reviewed regularly.
This message would not be complete without acknowledging the sacrifice, dedication and professionalism that Stephen Fuller and Sheila Stokes have shown at the LCC and SCC. I have been extremely pleased with the work that all ILO’s that have represented AHBIC at the SCC.
I have been in the chair position for less than 70 days and while the job is not yet what I imagined, it has been rewarding and I have learnt a lot – with a lot more to learn. The most important item I have learnt is that I am supported by a passionate and talented team and for that I am truly thankful.
CEO update August
The first six months in the acting CEO role was dominated by the congress and keeping AHBIC operating in business as usual. Since signing on as the CEO of AHBIC in early July, my role has been dominated by Varroa mite and the incursion in Newcastle. For the last 2 or so months I have done nothing but Varroa mite and have become an honorary citizen of NSW as I have spent significantly more time in NSW than at home. Despite the amount of time I have spent assisting in the incursion I have managed to attend some other meetings to keep AHBIC moving forward.
The 4th Australian Congress was delivered with great success. I would like to thank the extraordinary team of volunteers that work relentlessly to achieve the event. The obstacles like COVID and the reluctance of people wanting to travel made the congress organising challenging, but the team rose to the challenge and pulled off a successful event. Thank you.
The AgriFutures funded communications project has now been completed with the delivery of the new website and newsletter platform and the development of media tools for AHBIC. The project has revamped AHBIC and provided the organisation with a suite of tools to use enabling better communication with industry.
Australian Beekeeper Award
The national beekeeper award program was an initiative of the communication project. The award recognises up and coming industry leaders and provide personal development opportunities to the state recipients. I participated in the finalist’s workshop in Brisbane on the 19th-20th May. This workshop was inspiring for me to listen to the passion the finalists had for our industry and provided a lot of comfort the next crop of industry leaders will take the industry to the next level.
Honey that has been sourced from Western Australian retail shelves has been tested by AHBIC and identified to be adulterated. A complaint was subsequently lodged with the relevant authority, in this case Queensland health department and the ACCC. Queensland health have taken up the complaint and conducted surveillance on the suspected importer to determine the extent of the operations. Additional samples from Western Australia have been sourced via authorised officers and testing is being conducted. The slow wheels of the ACCC have started to turn and an additional investigation is being conducted.
AgriFutures Levied Industry Forum
Stephen and I attended the AgriFutures levied forum in Sydney on 21st June to discuss and priorities industry/AgriFutures issues. This was attended by all the levied industries under AgriFutures. This day demonstrated the many cross sectorial issues that the industries have in common. Discussions around how the industries could work more closely together and how the relationships between AgriFutures and the levied industries could be further strengthened were also discussed.
Departing words – Trevor Weatherhead
At the 2022 Annual General Meeting I retired from my role as Chair of AHBIC. It has been my privilege to serve the industry for around 34 years in various positions.
Thank you to all those who have helped me over the journey. It is not a one man band. There are many who provided support and information that eventually makes things happen. It has always been my philosophy that there were many before me that kept the industry functioning and it was my role to carry on that legacy. Now I pass the baton on.
I wish Stephen Targett and the new Executive all the best. Also those who are on the AHBIC Council keep up your good work. You are the conduit between AHBIC and the members that you represent.
No amount of thanks would be enough to thank my wife, Marion, for all the help she has been over the years. She has allowed me to be able to go to industry meetings and kept our queen rearing business intact when I was away.
Disease Survey on Norfolk Island
You may be aware that Australia carries out surveys of honey bees on Norfolk Island to determine the disease status of the honey bees there.
During a recent survey a PCR test, developed by New Zealand, was used to look at the presence or absence of the internal mite, Acarapis woodi. Using a PCR test means that it saves the labour of using previous methods where the tracheas of the bees have to be either manually removed or potassium hydroxide is used to dissolve body tissue leaving only the tracheas.
The first results using the PCR came up as positive. Of course this rang alarm bells. It was decided to check the actual tracheas of bees by using the old method of dissecting the tracheas out and examining them under a microscope. When this as done no internal mites were found. So it was reasoned that the original positive was a false positive.
How was this possible? There are two (2) other external mites that are present on honey bees in Australia. There is no evidence that they have any detrimental effect on honey bees. They are A. dorsalis and A. externus. See https://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/animals-and-livestock/bees/pests-diseases/other-pests-and-diseases/tracheal-mite So the PCR would be reacting to the presence of these external mites as they are from the same genus i.e. Acarapis. As queen bees have been sent to Norfolk Island from mainland Australia many years ago it is reasonable to expect that these external mites would be present on Norfolk Island.
When I worked for the Queensland Department of Primary Industries in the 1980’s one of my jobs was to collect honey bee samples from the various queen bee breeders to examine them for diseases and pests so interstate health certificates could be signed for queen bees. When examining these honey bees it was quite common for me to find dorsalis on the worker bees. Identification was confirmed by an entomologist.
So this note is being circulated so that if you hear a story about internal mites being present in honey bees on Norfolk Island you know that it was a false positive and subsequent examination has not found any internal mites.
Beekeeper Award state finalists have unique visions for Australia’s $14.2 billion honey bee industry
The new awards program aims to celebrate emerging leaders within the vital beekeeping industry, which contributes $14.2 billion through pollination services to the national economy each year, as well as supporting rural and regional communities and helping to ensure food security throughout Australia and the world.
AHBIC Chair, Trevor Weatherhead, said the finalists came from a diversity of backgrounds – from multigenerational beekeepers to professional pollination service providers and recreationalists who have turned professional – and congratulated them for demonstrating their own unique and compelling vision for the industry.
“We are delighted by the calibre of entrants in the inaugural awards, and I congratulate the beekeepers who were judged finalists by their respective state beekeeping associations,” Mr Weatherhead said.
“Each of them has articulated their own distinct perspective and thoughts on the long-term sustainability of the industry, as well as innovative ideas for raising awareness of the importance of honey bees to Australians.
“In addition to producing the best honey in the world, our beekeepers underpin Australian agriculture by managing the honey bees that pollinate crops including almonds, apples, avocadoes, blueberries, cucumbers, pumpkins, and rockmelons.
“At a time when it is important to better connect with consumers and communicate this critical role honey bees play in feeding Australia and the world, it’s encouraging to see the enthusiastic group of finalists who are on course to be the leaders of the future.”
The state finalists will attend a two-day professional development workshop in Brisbane before the successful Australian Beekeeper Award winner is announced at the 4th Australian Bee Congress being held in Sydney from 8 – 11 June.
NEW SOUTH WALES
Zac Alcock, Central West Apiaries
Zac is a third-generation beekeeper and enthusiastic to continue his life-long education in honey bees to provide leadership that will support the industry’s growth. He has travelled abroad to learn about the pests and diseases that are biosecurity risks for Australia’s honey bee industry and to gain greater knowledge of various aspects of beekeeping, including alternative bee feeding techniques. Zac was able to share this knowledge with fellow beekeepers to support honey bee survival during the 2019-20 bushfire season.
Jack Stone, Bee One Third
Jack has ten years’ experience as a beekeeper and a vision to see the honey bee industry at the forefront of Australia’s agricultural conversation. Currently, Jack delivers a unique service where businesses and community groups host a bee hive in their backyard, rooftop or community garden, which allows them to contribute back to their local ecosystem, while delivering a tangible return on investment in the form of honey. He sees opportunities to use effective communication to build relationships across the private and public sectors and help grow the honey bee industry.
Jake Leske, The Queens Cut
Jake is strong advocate of Australian honey and sees valuable opportunities to leverage existing relationships within the food industry to showcase the calibre and diverse range of flavours of honey available in Australia. He has a particular focus on native bush land revegetation and believes this is an avenue to continue building engagement with farmers to ensure access to bee pollination sites for years to come. Jake has interactive marketing ideas to help raise awareness of the importance of honey bees to global food security.
Lindsay Callaway, Warral Maldon
Fifth-generation beekeeper, Lindsay Callaway, manages extensive contracts with some of Australia’s largest nut and seed growers, to pollinate 1,700 hectares of orchards and broadacre crops per year. Understanding the significance of pollination to many agricultural commodities, Lindsay has a strong vision for supporting the honey bee industry to build positive long-term partnerships with stakeholders to increase the professionalism and efficiency of the services. He is enthusiastic about growing a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship, especially in production and transportation, and helping consumers to understand more about the provenance of honey.
Julie Dinsdale, Honey in the Garden
Starting as a recreational beekeeper, Julie has established a family-owned commercial beekeeping business that produces and distributes honey. Her vision is to help educate people, particularly the younger generation, about the importance of honey bees and pollination services both at the local and global level. She believes education and awareness activities also have the potential to encourage young people to consider careers in the honey bee industry.
Friends of AHBIC
If you aren’t already a Friend of AHBIC, we welcome you to join our group of organisations and individuals who are supporting Australia’s national beekeeping industry that supports you.