August 2000

Honey  - Australia's Liquid Gold


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The Honey News Archives

Voluntary Contributors to AHBIC

AHBIC wishes to thank all those who contribute to the support of the organisation. It would be prudent,  when purchasing queen bees or selling honey, to consider supporting those who support the industry and conduct price comparisons on that basis. A list of all current contributors appears below.

AB’s Honey
Australian Rain Forest Honey
Australian Honey Bee Improvement Programme
Australian Sungold Queen Bees
Beeline Queens
Capilano Honey Limited
CE Mills
Chiltern Honey
Coopers Fine Foods
Dewar Apiaries
Hunter Valley Apiaries
R & E McDonald
R. Stephens
RC & DJ Phillips Pty Ltd
Swan Settlers
T & M Weatherhead
Walkabout Apiaries
Weerona Apiaries
Wescobee Limited
Windsor Farm Foods Pty Limited

AHBIC Review

The Survey and Discussion paper has now been distributed to members of the industry for completion.  Please ensure that as many people as possible complete the survey so that the results reflect a broad scope of opinion.  In this way all industry participants can have input into the manner in which industry operates.

Potential Incursion in Gladstone Averted

Details have been received from Bill Harper (AQIS Gladstone) in relation to an incident involving a swarm of European Bees (to be confirmed once the samples are analysed but there is little doubt from the descriptions given) detected on a coal wharf in Gladstone.  AQIS became aware of the incident on Thursday 10th August. Due to a misunderstanding, the swarm was originally moved by a beekeeper wharf employee to a small acreage outside the town and placed in a hive box beside his one existing three tier hive.

It is believed that this swarm is most likely local, but given the circumstances and recent history of problems experienced in Queensland, the collective thought of industry and government, (Dr David Banks, Glynn Maynard, Ron Glanville and Trevor Weatherhead), was that we should err on the side of caution and destroy both hives as soon as possible. 

The most recent vessels in port were direct from Japan  (11-14 days sailing). The estimate of 1000 bees collected from the original swarm may be just that, an estimate (which may have been a gross over estimation). The identity of the bees will be checked for mites once the specimens are received.

In relation to the above incursion, AHBIC has made direct representation to Dr David Banks on a number of issues which were highlighted as a result of this potential incursion.

In relation to this breach, AQIS has been asked to re-notify all port authorities throughout Australia the protocols regarding the handling of bee swarms on wharves.

Organic Farming

AHBIC will shortly be meeting with AQIS to fine tune the development of its organic honey standards.  In the interim, it is worth noting the following:-

1. In 1990 in Australia 372,000 hectares were devoted to organic farming.  The estimate now is 1 million hectares – thought to be largest area of organic farming in the world.

2. Output from organic production was $28m in 1990, $80m in 1995 and estimated now at $250m.

3. The prices of products of organic farming are generally higher than the alternative products as many people are willing to pay a higher price because of environmental protection.

Locust Control

The Australian Plague Locust Commission (APLC) was established in 1974 to overcome past difficulties in organising the control of an insect which migrates over long distances and poses an interstate threat to agricultural industries. The Commission is jointly funded by the Commonwealth (50%), New South Wales (32.5%), Victorian (10%), South Australian (5%) and Queensland (2.5%) governments.

The APLC's role is to:

• Manage outbreaks of the Australian plague locust, spur-throated locust and migratory locust which are considered an interstate threat 

• Assist States to manage locust outbreaks in their area of responsibility

• Seek to improve the effectiveness and safety of locust field operations

The APLC comprises 19 permanent staff located at the headquarters in Canberra and at three field bases, one each at Narromine, Broken Hill and Longreach. 

The APLC is headed by a Director who is responsible to the Commissioners. Staff are members of the National Offices of Animal and Plant Health and Food Safety within the Commonwealth Department of Agriculture Fisheries & Forestry - Australia.

The GIF map with the Spring distribution of plague locust.  They will be sprayed  with insecticides, and some members in the country might be interested in the information. Further information is available on the website: www.affa.gov.au/aplc 

Plant Health Australia

AHBIC is an associate member of Plant Health Australia (PHA) and Stephen Ware will be attending their first strategic planning workshop on 29th August, 2000 in Brisbane.

NSW Agriculture Presents a
Queen Bee Breeding Course – Tocal
25th to 28th September 2000

Limited numbers of students will be admitted to the above course to ensure that all participants receive hands-on experience.  If demand exceeds the number required to cover costs, a similar course may be arranged for later this year or early next year.

Enrolment forms are available from The Course Secretary, CB Alexander Agricultural College, “Tocal” PATERSON   NSW   2421. Phone: 1800 025520 or 02 4939 8881

Cost of the course is $364.50 (including GST) for 3 ½ days and includes lunch each day and morning and afternoon teas.  Accommodation in single, twin or triple share rooms is available for participants of all courses.  Details will be sent with confirmation of enrolment or contact the Course Secretary for details and cost.

Office Arrangements

The AHBIC office is situated in the centre of the CBD and, during the Olympic Games period, it is envisaged that, at times, travel will be difficult to and from the office.  If at any time during this period you find the office difficult to contact, please be patient and we will endeavour to keep delays to a minimum.

Please also note that daylight saving time takes effect in New South Wales from August 26th 2000.

Exports to Saudi Arabia

AHBIC has been advised by the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS) that the Saudi Arabian Government is intending to introduce a requirement for imports to be accompanied by documentation relating to genetically modified organism (GMO) freedom status.

AQIS has been advised that the Saudi Arabian Government will not implement this programme for six months.

Industry will be advised when more details are available.

 Conference Diary

Following is a schedule of proposed dates for conferences for the coming year.  Please make note of these for your diary plans.

FCAAA Queensland Beekeepers Association 28-29 June 2001 Sunshine Coast
 New South Wales Apiarists Association 31 May-1 June 2001 Port Macquarie
 Tasmanian Beekeepers Association 6-7 July 2001 Hobart
 Western Australian Farmers Federation- Beekeeping Section 8-9 June 2001
 South Australian Apiarists Association 21-22 June 2001
 Victorian Apiarists Association 14-15 June 2001 Central Region

Honey Packers and Marketers Association 26 September 2000 Melbourne
National Council of Pollination Associations To be advised
Australian Queen Bee Breeders Association May/June 2001
Australian Honey Bee Industry Council 9-10 July 2001, Hobart


Crop Report – South Australia

Some bees from most areas are involved in the pollination of almonds which is nearing completion.  Plans for the expected severe locust problem in spring are ongoing.

West Coast – Upper – Reasonable rainfalls have taken place over the past six weeks.  This augurs well for late spring/summer mallee and tea tree.  Euc diversifolia is still yielding some honey when conditions are warm enough for bee flight.  Canola is beginning to flower.  Black mallee is showing promise for about mid October.

West Coast – Lower – Euc diversifolia may finish by the first or second week in September.  The bees are expanding their brood nest well.  There are numerous ground floras flowering, wild turnip and odd cape weeds are now opening up.

Riverland – Almond pollination is nearing completion. (Large numbers of bees are concentrated in orchards for the pollination contracts.)

South East – Upper – Bees are starting to breed in Ngarkat, with a honey shake during favourable weather conditions.  Prospects after almonds – canola in about three weeks and jane in about four weeks.

South East – Lower – Some coastal bush resource.

Northern – Upper – More rains are needed for spring prospects, which are currently looking reasonable.  Some canola running up into flower; generally a smaller sowing of this crop this year.

Northern – Lower – good rainfall to date.  Bees wintered well on the plains where canola is starting to flower.

Central – Canola is running up on the Murray flats and eastern range – so far the wettest winter since 1971.  The sub soil is wet which should have  favourable implications for the late spring and summer ground floras.

Kangaroo Island – Canola will be flowering soon.  Coastal mallees are flowering on the eastern end of the Island where bees are expanding their brood nest.  It has been a good wet winter, but follow up rains are needed.

Kay Lambert

Crop Report -New South Wales

Napunyah was not well budded and most beekeepers did not get any honey while a small number did reasonably well.  Some beekeepers are moving away onto early canola.

With good rains still falling in the central west and the south west, prospects are looking good for a healthy crop of Paterson’s curse and, in the autumn, stringy bark.  In most areas, river red gum did not bud but there is some good bud on green mallee in the west.  Although some rain has fallen in the north, much more is needed.

Some hives in the central area are running short of stores with beekeepers hoping for some early canola.

Stock Report – New South Wales

Very little change from the last report with honey in general in short supply.  Very few beekeepers, if any, are holding any honey.

Eddie Podmore

Crop Report And Stock Position - Queensland

Warmer conditions are resulting in limited production being experienced in the Channel Country from Yapunyah. Concern continues to be expressed over the lack of pollen production. The Yapunyah flow will be short and is likely to cease by the middle of September. Interest will then turn to areas of Bimble Box  which have enjoyed reasonable rainfall as a potential crop. Reports are still very mixed for Narrow Leaved Ironbark. Canola crops will attract attention for build purposes.  There have been a few isolated reports of budding on Black Box, a traditionally shy yielder. Some areas of Hill Gum are budded. It is still too early to predict a Coolibah crop.

The coast continues to show very few prospects to the end of December, adding to the woes of Queensland beekeepers who have had poor seasons for the past two years.

Honey producers who have worked the Channel Country are concerned that they may not be able to remove all honey due to the need to preserve stores until the next crop. Plague locusts will also be watched carefully should, predicted locust plagues occur.

Most of the main honey producing areas of Queensland remain very dry, hopefully spring and summer rain will fall giving ground flora and short term budding eucalypts a chance to produce unexpected honey crops.

The stock on hand position for most beekeepers remains low. 

Bill Winner

Crop Report – Western Australia

Most beekeepers have shifted onto their spring sites, with the bees coming out of winter strong. The coastal heath (Parrot bush and Trifecata) is looking very good and above average crops are expected from these regions. The Salvation  Jane may not be as good as last year because of the late start to the season with the rain not coming until July. The prediction of a very bad locust plague is going to cause problems in the agricultural areas with the danger of hives being killed by the sprays used to control locusts. Beekeepers working York Gum report a trickle flow with the bees breeding well.

 Beekeepers have been looking at the goldfields area with reports that the E calastroides, E gracillis look promising for October to January.

Kim Fewster

Seasonal Notes – Victoria

At this early stage of the 2000-01 season, overall prospects are somewhat subdued.  The best guess is for average production, but circumstances yet unknown could alter this forecast.  With the exception of red stringybark in the late summer, and the odd wattle species, significant general buddings of major eucalypt species do not occur.  Late budders such as grey box and iron bark may set some bud in the late spring/early summer, and if they do, prospects for finishing the season off on a better note would improve.  Rainfall from now and through the spring in the NSW Riverina will determine the extent of canola and paterson’s curse yields.  Apiaries are now being moved to this region where the best prospects for useful new season crops exist.  Some patches of black box and red gum offer some limited prospects north of the Murray for mid summer crops, but generally, this important part of the season will be a flat spot for production for most producers.  Irrigation white clover and strawberry clover in southern coastal districts will attract beekeepers during the mid summer period, particularly if adequate rainfall is received during the later spring.  Almond pollination is almost completed, with some apiaries soon to be moved out.

North Eastern Victoria

Adequate rainfall is being received.  Heavy snow and cold temperatures have prevailed, apart from a short burst of warm springlike weather late July/early August.  Bees here generally wintered well.  Best prospects are north of the Murray early in the season and in the foothills in the late summer for red stringybark.  The budding on this species varies, but is widespread enough and good enough to produce a crop.  Grey box may bud for an autumn flowering.

Central Victoria

Yellow gum prospects for this spring have diminished due to excessively cold weather.  Some reports indicate that the strength of colonies has been weakened.  Some apiaries are now being moved into the Riverina for canola and paterson’s curse.  A few red gum in central Victoria are well budded and will offer limited prospects mid season.  Some messwate has budded, but the best prospects rely on a good budding of red stringybark throughout the region.  Some good judges say grey box will bud to flower in the autumn.  More rain will be needed to improve prospects. 

Further west, rainfall is still deficient and prospects, apart from canola and possibly some late yellow gum, are fairly modest.  Brown stringybark is budded for the autumn, but this species has a reputation for unreliability.


Mallee bees are in good condition and breeding well.  Sufficient rain has fallen to maintain turnip and twin leaf which have mainly formed the nutrition base.  Manuka tea tree is flowering.  A patchy white mallee flowering (good in some areas) is not yielding yet.  Giant augula has about a 50% budding, but the horned oil mallee and christmas mallee are well budded to flower mid summer.  Some dumosa mallee is budded for the autumn.


Some eastern and southern regions have received adequate rainfall but other regions, including central Gippsland, remain fairly dry.  The whole region needs good soaking spring rains to set up spring and summer prospects for ground flora including clover.  There is no major, widespread budding on the eucalypts.  Reports say this is a result of Gippsland being too rainfall deficient for too long.  Coastal prospects are fairly modest, although bloodwood could be a prospect if rain falls at the right time.  Further up the coast into New South Wales, grey iron bark is a definite early prospect.  Some patches of red stringybark are well budded.

Linton Briggs

Crop Report - Tasmania

Good rains have been experienced throughout Tasmania with cold winds during the last week, resulting in heavy snow on the eastern slopes.

Bees are in good condition, but will need feeding.  There will be a good flowering of wattle this year and, together with gorse, will give beneficial pollen.  Bees are quite active, which we have not seen for a few years, due to the adverse effects of chalkbrook.

Ground flora honey has good potential for the coming spring.  Good local sales for July and August.  Honey stocks are in the packers’ factories with no fresh supplies until 2001, unless blue gum yields in the east and south.

The increase in sugar prices from 1st September and the sky-rocketing price of petrol (now over the dollar mark commonly throughout Tasmania) will add great financial pressure to the migratory beekeepers in Australia.

The Tasmanian Beekeepers Association is about to sign a revamped Community Forest Agreement with the Forestry Department.  Thefts of hives has been a problem over the last eighteen months and the police have been consulted. 

Shirley Stephens

Dates for Publication of Newsletter

Please note the deadline for receipt of material for the monthly newsletter is the 20th day of each month with the publication being mailed by the 25th day of each month.  It is important that contributors note these new dates.  It is hoped that this new system will assist industry journals in the provision of information contained in the AHBIC newsletter on a more timely basis.
Industry Video

AHBIC now has available the industry video.  Two versions are available – one which runs for  45 minutes and another which is a teaching video consisting of 13 segments.  These videos are available at a cost of $27.50 (Incl GST) each from the AHBIC office.