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Newsletter Edition - October 2022

  • B-Trace

    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:

    • Famers Markets
    • Direct to consumers
    • Food stalls
    • 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.

    For further information go to www.btrace.com.au

  • B-QUAL

    How does B-QUAL certification benefit my business?

    • Product integrity
    • Quality Assurance
    • HACCP based certification
    • Regulatory compliance
    • Industry best practice
    • Biosecurity
    • Access to domestic and export markets

    B-QUAL Certification also enables an enterprise to market its product under the B-QUAL logo to show that it meets the B-QUAL Industry Standards.

    Complete your training at home at your own pace.

    For more information and to obtain a Certification Information Pack, contact the B-QUAL Certification team.

    B-QUAL Pty Ltd
    Phone 0404 381 942
    Email: admin@bqual.com.au

  • What is the National Bee Biosecurity Program?

    The aim of the National Bee Biosecurity Program (NBBP) is to help beekeepers to manage pests that are already in Australia, and to prepare for incursions by exotic pests.

    Generally speaking, Australian governments focus on pre-border and at-the-border biosecurity, pest surveillance activities and emergency pest or disease incursions. The honey bee industry and individual beekeepers are responsible for managing established pests and checking for exotic ones.

    As a result, the beekeeping industry has established a levy to pay for biosecurity activities, and has developed a Code of Practice for all beekeepers to follow.

    To help beekeepers to implement biosecurity measures and to ensure that they are complying with the code and relevant legislation, Bee Biosecurity Officers are employed within six state departments of primary industry. The biosecurity officers are there to provide training and education.

    Who are your BBOs?

    Jurisdiction BBO Email contact Ph. contact
    QLD Dave Schlipalius dave.schlipalius@daf.qld.gov.au Main: +61(7) 3708 8367

    Mobile: 0436 858838

    NSW Rod Bourke rod.bourke@dpi.nsw.gov.au Main: 02 4939 8946

    Mobile: 0438 677 195

    TAS Karla Williams karla.williams@nre.tas.gov.au


    Reception: 03 6165 3750

    Mobile: 0407 436 230

    VIC Ally Driessen ally.driessen@agriculture.vic.gov.au Mobile: 0436 819 350
    SA Samantha Grund samantha.grund@sa.gov.au Main: 08 8214 6021

    Mobile: 0439 864 382

    WA Jessica Bikaun jessica.bikaun@dpird.wa.gov.au Main: +61 (0)8 9368 3448

    Mobile: +61 (0)448 122 726

    For contract regarding the Varroa mite response please call the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline 1800 084 881.

    What have they been up to?

    In the event of an exotic pest incursion, the biosecurity officers are there to provide expert support to industry, and to help design and implement response measures. With the recent incursion of Varroa mite in NSW, all BBO’s have been extremely busy assisting with the response in various ways, such as:

    • Assisting in NSW at the State Control Centre (SCC)
    • Assisting in their local jurisdiction SCC
    • Assisting with activities in the National Bee Pest Surveillance Program (NBPSP)
    • Assessing compliance and conducting surveillance at pollination events


    Update from a few BBOs


    Rod Bourke, NSW DPI Bee Biosecurity Officer, based at Tocal Agricultural College in the Hunter Valley since mid-2017.

    My work location is now within the Red “eradication” Zone of the Varroa response. I, along with Mark Page (BBO-Surveillance), were amongst the first responders when we were tasked with euthanising all Newcastle Port sentinel hives on 22nd June after being advised that Varroa destructor had been found within 2 of them. Since that time, I have undertaken many various roles within the response including general varroa sampling within hives in the Newcastle area, euthanising Infected Premises (IP) hives and week 2 of the Almond Surveillance program in the Riverina.


    Dr. Dave Schlipalius is the current Queensland Bee Biosecurity Officer at the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries.

    Since the detection of varroa mite in June, Dave has been working within Queensland’s varroa mite preparedness response group. He has provided expert advice to various working groups on varroa mite detection, surveillance, risk and risk mitigation, developed and reviewed public information and engagement, delivered varroa mite education and awareness activities to industry and amateur beekeepers, promoted beehive surveillance including Queensland’s Hive Surveillance Program to increase surveillance participation, and answered beekeeper and industry enquiries. Dave is currently assisting as the Industry Liaison for Queensland’s Varroa preparedness working group.


    Jessica Bikaun delivers the National Bee Biosecurity Program in WA as part of her role as Project Officer (Bees) at the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD). Jess was deployed to the Varroa Emergency Response in NSW’s State Coordination Centre in July but has since returned to WA to continue working with beekeepers to improve their biosecurity practices and prepare for exotic bee threats. Read more.


    Samantha has a Bachelor of Animal Science and a keen interest in biosecurity, beekeeping, production of queens, bee friendly plants and bees’ role in pollination.

    Her role in the SA response to the detection of Varroa in NSW has been that of technical consultant. Within that role she has been working on fact sheets, communications and other extension materials, risk assessments for the entry of bees and related items and products into SA, organising and implementing a risk-based surveillance program and the associated sampling protocol. She has also been around to different regions in SA holding workshops showing beekeepers how to sample hives.


    The NBBP is coordinated by Plant Health Australia and funded by state and territory governments and by AHBIC using their PHA levy. Co-investment is also provided from state apiary funds in South Australia and Victoria.


  • CEO Report

    September was another busy month dominated by the Varroa response.  I continue to spend a lot of time in Orange, NSW liaising with the control centre.

    New Executive Member

    The member bodies elected a new executive member to fill the casual vacancy left by the appointment of the CEO.  I warmly welcome Lindsay Callaway to the team and look forward to the input and insight Lindsay will bring to AHBIC.  The election, similarly to the AGM, had more nominations than positions.  This is great to see and hopefully the candidates that missed out will re-nominate at the next AGM.

    Varroa Response

    The response is on track to complete the removal of all managed hives from the red zones by the end of October paving the way for the feral bee baiting program to ramp up across the red zones.  The baiting program has been attracting good number of bees to the feeding stations with good uptake and declining returning numbers, indicating colony mortality.

    Surveillance in the purple zones and across the blue zones by both the DPI and beekeepers continues to show no new detections strengthen the confidence of containment.

    I have been meeting with the jurisdictions to encourage harmonisation with mixed results.   I will continue to lobby for consistent cross-jurisdictional rules to make doing business easier for beekeepers in the states the restrictions due to the Varroa incursion.

    Braula Fly

    The detection of Braula Fly in Victoria created a lot of issues and additional border restrictions.  Negotiations led by AHBIC has resulted in the jurisdictions agreeing to removing Braula as a regulated pest but maintain it as a notifiable.  This means that the border restrictions will be lifted for Braula, but border restrictions for Varroa still remain in place.

    AgVic have notified AHBIC that the genetic sequencing of the Victorian Braula Flies match the genomics of the Tasmanian Braula.  This indicates that the detection is not a new incursion but a geographical spread of the known infested area.  AgVic have exhausted all tracing and have not determined the likely entry point or timeframe.  No further action will be taken.


    AHBIC has been meeting with PHA and the levies sub-committee to assess the current levy structure and its sustainability.  It is likely that an increase to industry levies will occur to fund our share of the Varroa response.

    The honeybee industry share of the costs is likely to be several millions of dollars.  AHBIC has requested the cost to be underwritten by the federal government with a payback period of 10 years.  The current levies collect are enough to sustain the existing programs but an increase will likely need to happen to ensure we can pay our share within the 10 year period.

    Senate Inquiry

    Both Stephen and I attended the senate enquiry into Biosecurity preparedness in Canberra in early September at Parliament.  The senate enquiry has called many parties to provide evidence with AHBIC being the first to do so.  The key messages in the AHBIC submission broadly included equitable biosecurity funding arrangements, improved preparedness and jurisdictional harmonisation.  The Senators focused a lot of questions around the current response and industries involvement.

    A number of other honey bee industry bodies and pollination dependent parties have also given evidence before the enquiry.  We look forward to the recommendation from the enquiry being adopted by government and hope it doesn’t become shelved like the many enquiries before it.

    National Agriculture Market Intelligence Roundtable (NAMI)

    I attended the second NAMI event in Brisbane late September.  The event was a great opportunity to connect with the departmental staffers involved in international trade and various trade ambassadors.  The focus of the round table was to provide a global market update and a deep dive into the potential of Vietnam as a trade partner, the last NAMI explored Indonesia.

    The various speakers presented a gloomy picture of the global market conditions.  They described the high likelihood for a global recession on the horizon coupled with a global movement to protectionism tendencies.  They described the potential for war as real and that many countries are assessing their sovereign capabilities.

    Vietnam was presented as an emerging market for Australia with a growing middle class and forecasted to be 2nd largest economies in the next few decades.  The potential for Vietnam for honey exports was discussed.  There is a growing demand for Australian products, including honey, with some exports beginning to see larger volumes of honey traded in Vietnam.  The Australian Ag councillor to Vietnam talked about the impact the US countervailing action caused to trade relation and Australia is likely to benefit from the fallout.

    Almond Conference

    I presented to the Almond conference in Adelaide and talked about the current Varroa response but also highlighted AHBIC’s role both in industry and in the response.  There was good attendance with nearly 500 delegates in attendance.  Questions from the floor and post presentation were focused on the border closure and how long they will be in place.

    Varroa Coordinator

    As mentioned in the Chair report we have been successful in receiving grant money employee a Varroa Coordinator.  This role will be focused on Varroa and communications across AHBIC with all our stakeholders.  This should raise AHBIC profile and build momentum with the aim of making the additional role sustainable.

    The advertisement for this role will be published soon so keep an eye out for it.  The role will build capacity in AHBIC and allow more time for AHBIC to address the issues AHBIC has been tasked to address.

  • Chair’s Report

    The CEO and I have attended a two day webinar training course titled Making Decisions Under Pressure.  The course was funded by DAFF and coordinated by PHA.  A worthwhile course that helps one recognize the pressures and our personal history that may be influencing our decision making.

    The baiting of feral hives in the red zones which is the next stage of the varroa incursion response has started.  This gives industry confidence that varroa can be eradicated.  Given the accessibility of some of the country for feral hive baiting it will not be an easy task.

    Rural Assistant Authority are processing beekeeper claims and making payments.  Some beekeepers are claiming for higher rates than is in the schedule as is there right.  AHBIC along with RAA are detailing what evidence is required to support these higher claims before the higher reimbursement rates will be accepted and paid.

    AHBIC is very aware that many beekeepers are suffering losses through no fault of their own.  Ones such as queen breeders, pollinators that could not travel to their orchards and those in the purple zone.  Not to mention those that have their sheds in one zone and bees in another zone or bees in two zones.  The PHA deed that AHBIC signed up to is very specific as to the rules around the owner reimbursement of costs.  Unfortunately ORC’s are not available activities such as commercial queen breeders and those that have foregone pollination contracts.

    AHBIC has lobbied hard to get compensation for those beekeepers in the purple zone and recreational beekeepers.  The National Management Group has finally approved an increased budget (total recreational costs) for recreational beekeepers and also for Owner Reimbursement Costs (ORC) for those beekeepers in the purple zone.  AHBIC is lobbying hard to have these purple zone ORC payments to be made as soon as possible – limited DPI manpower is slowing this payment process down.

    AHBIC has been successful in a grant application for a Varroa Coordinator.  The executive has determined the way forward with this and recruitment will start shortly with the position to be filled in the coming months.

    Purchase of Surveillance hives to be used in the red eradication zone to prove that the baiting method will kill hives was done by DPI. AHBIC had no influence on the purchase process or who DPI purchased these hives from.

    The VARROA RESPONSE is beyond 100 days now.  NSW DPI are close to finalizing a plan to present to the CCEPP and ultimately the NMG for approval that covers the next two years.  The current plan will continue until the next plan is approved or not approved.

    The Levy Sub Committee that was set up at the AGM recently met.  Plan is to have recommendations to AHBIC member bodies well before the next AGM.

    AHBIC and DPI were exploring an option to use nucleus hives to provide pollination for rubus crops in the Coffs area red and purple zones.  Nucs would have been euthanized at end of pollination.  However due to circumstances this did not happen and those rubus crops will not be pollinated this spring by managed honey bees.  Hopefully we can have plans in place to provide pollination to rubus crops for their late summer flowering.

    Please be careful with all this wet weather.


    Stephen Targett

  • BICWA Update September 2022

    Spring is well underway, and the beekeeping fraternity is spread around the state, with the canola ending along with the almond pollination. Now, where to go next? There could be some Coastal Bush and some pockets of Jarrah, and it has been some talk of the Goldfields, which could have some potential.

    I am hearing that our little bees have made it through winter quite strong and that swarm control has been difficult to manage. I urge everyone to be vigilant in applying the very best practices to stop bees from heading to the bush.

    On the BICWA front, our AGM was held on FRI 23rd September. Members were invited to vote on Constitutional changes allowing electronic voting and director election prior to the AMG proceedings, and the election of 2 board directors. We had 5 nominations for the 2 vacancies, which is fantastic to choose from a variety of great candidates, all beekeepers with different backgrounds.

    The voting outcome will be announced mid October once we have validated all votes.

    Leilani Leyland retired from the board, and we thank her for her commitment and dedication to thrive Industry where it is now! No doubt, without her tireless engagement, the WA Bee Industry would not be where it is today! She will stay on a BICWA Sub-Committee organising events, so we are still lucky to have her involved!

    My position became available at this AGM, and I have decided to re-nominate for another 3 year office term.

    We have launched our new BICWA webpage – www.bicwa.com.au ! Check it out, and leave us feedback on how you get along with it!

    The new DBCA portal launched, and using of sites and applications will be much easier. A user manual for the system is available online at: https://www.dpaw.wa.gov.au/plants-and-animals/animals/beekeeping-on-crown-land-in-western-australia.

    We are working on getting some new traceability techniques in place to help us in the event of an incursion. We followed up with DPIRD after we met with Minister MacTiernan, on further measures to bolster and improve our biosecurity.

    The new Industry Strategic Plan organised by the Agriculture Producers Committee (APC) Beekeeping Section gets finalised at the moment, and we await its launch later this year.

    Our sub-committees have been working tirelessly, and I would like to pay a special mention to Mickey Cernotta and Kim Fewster for their commitment to keeping up to date with the incursion in NSW. We appreciate the significant time you spent doing this and the way you represented our industry.

    NSW is calling for more volunteers in the Varroa incursion. If you can help, please contact with Christine, info@bicwa.com.au or 0458 212 528 to get further info.

    Until next month, happy keeping, and don’t forget to subscribe to our webpage, like us on Facebook and become a member of your Industry today. 


    Brendon Fewster

    BICWA Chair

    Brendon Fewster