Mad March has lived up to its reputation. The Varroa response continues to grow in size, however the NSW DPI keep delivering their best effort to resource it and continue with eradication. The executive came together in Canberra to hold an executive meeting and a strategic planning workshop. I have been busy with CCEPP and NMG commitments along with meetings with Plant Health Australia, Department of Agriculture and CRC for pollination meetings this month.
The response continues to find low level detections in the purple zones. Whilst not unexpected it is slowly growing the red zones and encompassing more beekeepers and hives. It is devastating for those caught in the red and purple zones.
A focus on surveillance in the southern end of the Central Coast complex is underway to gain confidence there are no mites in the suburban areas of Sydney. Tracing work and general blue zone surveillance also continues.
Negotiations for permit framework has meant hives have been moved into the Nana Glen red zone to facilitate pollination on a one-way trip. Compliance continues to be an important part of the response with additional compliance staff recruited into the response. A greater focus on blue zone movement declarations and alcohol wash submissions will increase the amount of penalty notices issued.
CRC for Pollination Security
The first stage application for the CRC for Pollination Security has been submitted by the CRC bid team. This has been a huge undertaking for the bid team to get the application in. AHBIC was unable to support the bid through a partner declaration (a pledge of in-kind financial support) at the 11th hour due to concerns around how the application was written and how it reflected our industry.
This was a tough decision for the executive to make as it has significant implications. It was the strong view of the executive that the application didn’t reflect our industry positively. The clear goal of the CRC to find alternatives to honeybees for pollination also wasn’t in the best interest of creating a prosperous honey bee industry. The AHBIC executive is willing to work with the CRC for Pollination Security in the future should the opportunity arise. AHBIC did however provide a letter of support to the bid.
The Month Ahead
AHBIC is participating in the AgriFutures Levied Industry Forum to discuss common issues across industries and work on solutions with an opportunity to provide feedback to AgriFutures. I will be attending the national biosecurity roundtable towards the end of March and a Forum in Dubbo on transitioning away from diesel. We continue to meet with government to lobby for better pre-border testing of imported honey.
National Eucalypt Day – 23rd March 2023
23 March 2023 is National Eucalypt Day!
The honey bee industry in Australia has a deep connection to the eucalypt and more broadly the Myrtaceae family of which the eucalyptus belongs.
National Eucalypt Day aims to raise awareness of eucalypts and celebrate the important place they hold in the hearts and lives of all Australians.
This year, National Eucalypt Day turns 10!
Eucalyptus trees have a complex flowering cycle, they bloom under very specific climatic conditions which can be unpredictable throughout the decades.
Aussie beekeepers spend a lifetime reading the bush and assessing some of these factors to determine the next honey flow and produce some of the most unique honey in the world with our diverse tastes and colours direct from nature.
From the harsh red centre to the wind-ravaged alps and the extreme climate of the tropical savanna, eucalypts have come to dominate almost all Australian landscapes. Where the climate is fair and the soil nutrient-rich, they grow tall, dense and straight, as forests. Against salt-laden coastal winds, they grow low, tough-leaved and gnarled, hunkered down around dunes. The eucalypts of the high plains adopt a similar strategy, with the smallest eucalypt species in the world nothing more than a creeping bush. On drier lands with reliable rainfall, eucalypt woodlands hold magnificent trees beloved by Australia’s pollinators. In the wet/dry climate of the tropical savanna woodlands, some eucalypt species even drop their leaves for the dry season.
Australia boasts more floral sources for honey bees to forage on than any other country in the world and the vast majority of honey produced here comes from the wonderful Australian bush. Some of the best loved Australian honey flavours come from:
• Eucalyptus leucoxylon; Blue gum – light amber, choice forest honey from VIC, the south-eastern SA and south-western NSW.
• Eucalyptus diversicolor; Karri – amber honey from the forests of Western Australia.
• Eucalyptus melliodora; Yellow box – pale and sweet honey from New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland.
• Eucalyptus macrorhyncha or globoidea; (plus many others) Red and White Stringy bark – strong flavoured, medium amber honey from forests in north-eastern VIC and throughout the Great Dividing Range NSW to QLD.
Why not take the time to get out into the great outdoors this weekend and appreciate our amazing Australian bush by taking a walk amongst the eucalypts in a trail at a National Park or State Forest near you!
Small Hive Beetle – Biosecurity Tasmania
Moratorium on Opening Hives
On 12 March 2023, Biosecurity Tasmania placed a moratorium on the opening of hives, harvest of honey and honeycomb, and movement of beekeeping equipment for any beekeepers that are in the 15km Bee Movement Restriction Area as declared in the General Biosecurity Direction. Initially, the moratorium will be in place until 31 March 2023. All beekeepers within the 15km Bee Movement Restriction Area are asked to avoid opening hives during this period.
Current response information
Biosecurity Tasmania is currently investigating a confirmed detection of a single small hive beetle (SHB) in a guard hive located in the Devonport area.
This detection does not mean that SHB is established in Tasmania. At this point there has been no further detections beyond the single guard hive.
SHB, which originates from Africa, has been detected in all Australian states except the Northern Territory. In its larvae stage, SHB burrows into beehives consuming brood, pollen and honey, which can significantly damage the hive population and honey production.
Tasmania’s Chief Plant Protection Officer, Andrew Bishop, has declared a General Biosecurity Direction, which establishes a 15 km Bee Movement Restriction Area around the detection site, and restricts the movement of bees and bee products within, into and out of the zone.
Biosecurity Tasmania has enacted emergency management protocols including extensive hive and site inspection within the Restricted Area. This approach is designed to protect the health of Tasmania’s bee population and our honey and pollination sectors.
These restrictions do not affect honey movement and sale within the Restriction Area, provided it was harvested prior to 8 March and has been filtered to a maximum 2mm pore size.
Hives and bee equipment originating outside of the Restriction Area may be able to transit through the Area (eg from Smithton to Launceston) under a group permit.
Small hive beetle
The small hive beetle, Aethina tumida (Murray), was discovered in hives at Richmond, New South Wales in late October 2002. It has subsequently been found in all Australian States except Western Australia. It has now been found in Tasmania. Prior to this date the Small Hive Beetle was not known to exist in Australia.
Further information on the small hive beetle can be sourced on the ‘BeeAware’ webpage (now the go-to pest and disease reference site).
The adult small hive beetle are broad flattened beetles about 5-7 mm long and dark brown to nearly black in colour. Larvae are elongate white grubs. Pupae are white to brown and are found in soil beneath the hive. From egg to adult takes 38-81 days with five generations a year. Adults and larvae inhabit hives where they feed on stored honey and pollen. Combs are damaged and brood killed; honey ferments and bubbles out of the cells. Damage is so severe where this pest occurs in the Western Hemisphere that thousands of hives are killed by it each year.
Biosecurity Tasmania contact information
Biosecurity Tasmania: (03) 6165 3777
If you are inside the Bee Movement Restriction Area and have moved your hives or removed any elements of a hive since 8 March 2023 or in the four weeks prior, please notify Biosecurity Tasmania and provide updated location details.
If you believe you must open a hive for any reason, please contact Biosecurity Tasmania on 6165 3777
Company Directors Course Entry Pathways
1. Company Directors Course
AgriFutures Australia is committed to supporting the people who are driving, and will drive, the future prosperity of Australian rural industries and communities.
AgriFutures Australia currently has an opportunity for key stakeholders to participate in the Australian Institute of Company Directors – Company Directors CourseTM Online.
Applications are now open and close Friday, 14 April 2023 at 5pm (AEST).
AgriFutures Australia is offering individuals from the following groups the opportunity to participate in the Company Directors Course Online:
Individuals working in an AgriFutures Australia levied industry (chicken meat, export fodder, thoroughbred horses, honeybee and pollination, rice, ginger, tea tree oil, pasture seeds, kangaroo, buffalo, deer, goat fibre)
Individuals working in an emerging industry (industrial hemp, insects, seaweed, sesame)
Agrifood innovation professionals (e.g. startups, scaleups, agtech companies, Producer Technology Uptake Program participants and coordinators, innovation brokers)
Members of the AgriFutures Rural Women’s Award Alumni.
Applications open on Monday, 20 March 2023
Applications close Friday, 14 April 2023
Applicants notified by: Friday, 28 April 2023
Company Directors Course commences: Monday, 15 May 2023
Who should apply?
Experienced directors, new directors, business owners and senior executives reporting to boards. It is best suited to participants who are comfortable with online learning and are keen to build connections with their fellow online learners.
Do you know someone who would be perfect for this opportunity? It would be greatly appreciated if you could share this information.
For further questions about the opportunity please contact:
2. Governance Foundations for Not-For-Profit Directors
Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD) annual Not-for-Profit Scholarship Program for 2023/24 is now open.
There are 200 fully funded scholarships available for directors, executives and emerging directors of not-for-profit organisations across Australia with an annual income of less than $2 million to attend the AICD’s Governance Foundations for Not-for-Profit Directors program.
The AICD’s Governance Foundations for Not-for-Profit Directors program provides participants with an understanding of fundamental compliance and performance related roles and responsibilities of directors, specifically in the areas of governance, risk, financial performance and strategy. This program is offered over 1.5 days and includes the following 3 modules:
Duties and Responsibilities of the Not-for-Profit Director
Strategy and Risk for the Not-for-Profit Director
Finance for the Not-for-Profit Director
Upon completion of this program, you will be able to:
Identify the key duties and responsibilities of directors in the not-for-profit environment
Appreciate the potential personal liability of directors and council members
Understand governance structures as they apply in the not-for-profit context
Consider the differences / similarities and nuances of the director’s role in the not-for-profit / for profit sectors
Understand the role of directors in overseeing the strategy formulation and risk management approach of the organisation
Review the financial statements and the linkages between them
Discuss how directors in the not-for-profit sector can link the financial statements to understand the ‘financial story’ and health of the organisation
Please share this wonderful opportunity with directors, executives and emerging directors who you know would benefit from these studies.
If you need assistance with the scholarship application process, please contact the Australian Scholarships Foundation via firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1300 248 675.
Commercial Honey Producers and Researchers Wanted at AgriFutures
Applications now open for AgriFutures Honey Bee & Pollination Program Advisory Panel
The AgriFutures Honey Bee & Pollination Program has three positions open to join the Honey Bee & Pollination Program Advisory Panel. These exciting positions are open for industry members who are either commercial honey producers, or researchers in honey bee or related areas. We are also looking for skills in research and development management and the education/training space. Significant governance and financial management skills will be considered highly but are not considered a necessity. Researchers that are not actively engaged in AgriFutures Honey Bee & Pollination Program funded research are encouraged to apply.
You are required to consider the time requirements of an effective Advisory Panel member are taken into consideration prior to applying.
This is a fantastic opportunity for the next generation of honey industry leaders to become involved.
To maintain continuity of the Advisory Panel, knowledge and to ensure diversity in skillsets, the appointment of successful Advisory Panel applicants will be staggered prior to June 2023. Successful applicants will also be invited to observe Advisory Panel meetings prior to their official commencement date.
In partnership with AgriFutures Australia, the Advisory Panel provides recommendations on the allocation of RD&E funding for the AgriFutures Industry Programs.
AgriFutures Australia aims to maintain geographical, age and gender diversity to ensure that the Advisory Panel appropriately represents the ginger industry.
Advisory Panel member roles & responsibilities
The core functions of AgriFutures Industry Advisory Panels are to ensure that RD&E investment remains industry-demand driven, including:
Advising – providing advice on the industry requirements for investment through the development and monitoring of Strategic RD&E Plans
Identifying – providing recommendations to AgriFutures on suitable RD&E opportunities and activities to address industry issues
Aligning – providing feedback and investment advice on RD&E proposals submitted to AgriFutures to ensure investment is aligned to priorities in the respective Program’s Strategic RD&E Plan
Awareness – representing the industry to advise and assist in the dissemination, adoption, and Commercialisation of RD&E activities.
Activities of the Program are funded by industry levy and Commonwealth funds, and any funds contributed from third parties.
Advisory Panel members are recompensed for their services to AgriFutures Australia at rates determined by the Commonwealth’s Remuneration Tribunal.
Advisory Panel members may be required for up to 25 days per year and some travel is necessary.
Eyes in the Apiary
From Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD), 2021.
Beekeepers are reminded to check their apiaries to ensure they are compliant with legislation and the Australian Honey Bee Industry Biosecurity Code of Practice.
While many beekeepers continue to deliver healthy pollination-ready hives, the quality and consistency in others varies and at times questionable.
Many of the food crops we rely on are either greatly benefitted by, or completely dependent on, insects for pollination.
Honey bees are among the few commercial, mobile pollination services in the world and have become an essential part of modern agriculture.
The average honeybee can visit and pollinate more than 2,000 flowers in one day, greatly increasing the chances of a plant reaching its reproductive potential, which means more fruit, vegetables and seed production.
Some crops, including almonds, apples, pears and cherries, depend almost totally on these pollination services for fruiting.
For many other crops, such as broccoli, carrots, clover, lucerne and canola, insect pollination is essential for seed production.
For a long time, many crops have benefitted from Western Australia’s healthy population of feral honey bees.
However, the demand for paid pollination services has been rising, with the growth of several high value horticultural crops, as well as our improved appreciation of how pollination can increase crop yields, quality, and profits.
From inspections back in 2021, WA’s orchards and crops have been buzzing with activity. Growers across the States have been welcoming truckloads of bees hoping to ensure their future harvest maximises their production.
Throughout spring 2021, DPIRD apiary officers James Sheehan (Figure 1) and Jessica Moran (Figure 2) have visited several horticultural operations across the State for bee biosecurity inspections.
During these visits, the officers performed hundreds of brood inspections to assess colony health, conducted drone uncapping (Figure 3) and alcohol washing for external mite surveillance, and collected honey samples for American foulbrood (AFB) and European foulbrood (EFB) testing. WA remains free from EFB and this testing was for surveillance only.
For the most part, the inspections painted a positive picture for the bee and pollination industry – healthy bees and happy growers.
However, a few areas for improvement were identified:
Lack of branding or failure to strike-out former brands was one of the more common issues. Beekeepers are reminded that these offences carry penalties as branding hives is a legal requirement. Correct branding is crucial for identification of ownership and helps biosecurity officers to trace outbreaks during an incident.
Dead-out hives in the apiary at this time of year – let alone delivered to a pollination contract – certainly raised a few eyebrows. We understand issues around swarming, queenlessness and/or understrength colonies are common beekeeping challenges. However, dead outs, delivered by paid, professional beekeepers were disturbing discoveries…
Exposed, used hives are a biosecurity risk. It is an offence to leave hives, parts of hives including frames, combs, honey or beeswax, or appliances containing honey exposed to robber bees. Diseases, such as AFB, can quickly spread through bees robbing from these exposed materials so do yourself and your pollination neighbours a favour by keeping dead-out and spare hives closed (bee-proof).
Pros & Cons
Although paid pollination services can be a profitable opportunity, it is important to weigh the pros and cons and the value to your business.
This will mean different things for different beekeepers.
For some there may well be more profit elsewhere, for others it may be some reliable cashflow and or good diversification to your business income.
Pollination events are high-density, high-intensity beekeeping activities. Contracts often bring numerous beekeepers into close proximity and can present some serious practical challenges to hive management and biosecurity risk.
While the size of our industry pales in comparison to the pollination activities on the east coast, we should learn from their experiences to avoid repeating the same mistakes.
For example, it is important to recognise that clustering large numbers of hives on resource-limited crops (i.e. at the beginning and end of flowering periods) can lead to superspreader events.
These conditions promote robbing behaviour that can quickly spread disease from weak hives and dead-outs.
For example, hundreds of hives were destroyed at South Australia’s almond pollination in 2018 after one contracted beekeeper brought an AFB-infected hive to an orchard.
Engaging in pollination services means bearing responsibility for maintaining the highest biosecurity standards.
When considering whether to pursue a pollination contract it is important to consider what you walk away with after the pollination ends.
Yes, you may receive a fat cheque, but what about your bees?
It goes without saying; crops vary in nutritional quality and season.
Some crops may help to build bees up, e.g. canola and watermelons provide large quantities of pollen (Figure 4).
Other crops may leave weak colonies due to nutritional deficiencies or swarming challenges – an important consideration if the crop is far from home, limiting your ability to monitor and manage colonies.
These are all pros and cons every beekeeper must weigh up when deciding to pursue pollination work and calculating the pollination rate.
So before you jump into pollination – pause – take the time to understand your commitments, possible consequences, and the expectations of the grower. Fulfilling pollination contracts and delivering high-quality colonies is a big responsibility but the rewards can be very sweet (Figure 5).
Authors: James Sheehan and Jessica Moran, project officers (bees), Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, Western Australia (DPIRD)
Wild European Honey Bee Management Program
Achieving the eradication of Varroa mite is vitally important for maintaining Australia’s honey bee industry.
As an important component of the eradication of Varroa mite, it is necessary for NSW DPI to extend the Varroa mite Response in the Central Coast, Newcastle and Mid Coast EEZ extensions. The Wild European Honey Bee Management Team need the support of community members and beekeepers.
Report wild/feral European beehives and swarms of European bees to DPI here.
Volunteer to host a wild European bee feeder/bait station here.
Beekeepers in RED zones
Report the detection of Varroa mite or suspect mites in European honey bee hives here.
Remove your honey supers from managed bee hives in the RED zones (Central Coast, Newcastle, Mid Coast) before 27 March 2023 to ensure that honey contamination with the insecticides being used does not occur here.
Euthanise and wrap any managed bee hives in shrink wrap to protect against insecticide contamination prior to 27 March 2023 if you wish to retain your hive ware.
AHBIC in partnership with Sugar Australia are launching the Sugar 4 bees program to assist beekeepers in the purple zones.
The sugar dust will be in 1 tonne bulka bags. If beekeepers cannot safely accept 1 tonne bags, arrangements will need to be made for smaller sized collection.
Bee Feeding must comply with the current Emergency Order; be by a device that is installed or attached to a hive, only accessible from inside the hive and must be a new feeder or not had contact with another hive in the past 10 days. No open feeding.
The dust is available to assist beekeepers maintain hive health whilst impacted by the current Varroa incursion. The sugar dust attracts moisture and will go solid if not used quickly.
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.