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March 2000

Honey  - Australia's Liquid Gold

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The Honey News Archives
A publication of the Australian Honey Bee Industry Council

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 Bee Exporters, Australian Rainforest Honey, Australian Honey Bee Improvement Programme, Capilano Honey, CE Mills, Chiltern Honey, Coopers Fine Foods, Daybreak Apiaries, Dewar Apiaries, HL & HM Hoskinson, Hunter Valley Apiaries, IJ & PA Oakley, J. Picker, Jackel & Son, 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, Australian Animal Health Council

The Australian Animal Health Council (AAHC), of which AHBIC is a member, has been developing a new business name and corporate logo.  AAHC will now operate under the business name of Animal Health Australia.  The new name will greatly assist in recall and identification of the company’s activities, while the new logo represents a greater ‘Australian’ presence incorporating the traditional green and gold colours and map of Australia.  The new name and logo will also aid communication of the importance of sound animal health policies and practices in securing market access and enhancing trade opportunities for Australia’s livestock industries.

The most important matter being discussed by the organisation, is the need for bee diseases to be categorised on the basis of a government/industry cost sharing arrangement.  Following a determination by the Centre for International Economics and Dr Denis Anderson, bee diseases have been categorised according to the following formula:-

Categorisation of potential honey bee incursions and recommended funding proportions Pest or disease Brief description Recommended category and family split
Tropilaelaps clareae Mite on Apis mellifera or Apis dorsata Category 2:  20 per cent industry   80 per cent government 
Varroa destructor Mite on Apis mellifera or Apis cerana from  Korea, Japan/Thailand, China, Vietnam, Nepal Category 2:  20 per cent industry   80 per cent government 
Varroa jacobsoni Mite on Apis mellifera or Apis cerana from Indonesia, Malaysia, PNG, etc. Category 4:  80 per cent industry   20 per cent government 
Tracheal mite (Acarapis woodi) Mite on Apis mellifera Category 2:  20 per cent industry   80 per cent government 
Apis dorsata Asia honey bee - carries Tropilaelaps  clareae Category 2:  20 per cent industry   80 per cent government 
Apis cerana Strain from Pakistan, Korea, Japan, Thailand, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, China, Taiwan. Carrier of Varroa destructor Category 2:  20 per cent industry   80 per cent government 
Apis cerana Strain from India, Malaysia, Philippines, Indonesia, PNG. Carrier of Varroa jacobsoni Category 3:  50 per cent industry   50 per cent government 
Other Asian bee species Apis floral, Apis koschernikovi, Apis nigrocincta Carry parasitic mites not harmful to Apis  mellifera Category 3:  50 per cent industry   50 per cent government 
Bumble bee (all Bombus species) Carry Varroa destructor Category 2:  20 per cent industry   80 per cent government 
Foreign honey bees Apis mellifera including Africanised honey bee A. mellifera scutellata Could carry several harmful parasites  depending on origin. And introduce undesirable genetic traits in Africianised genes giving aggressive behaviour Category 2:  20 per cent industry   80 per cent government 
Small hive beetle (Aethina tumita) Beetle reduces honey production. Some  effects unknown Category 3:  50 per cent industry   50 per cent government 
Braula fly (Braula species) Affects exports of live bees Category 4:  80 per cent industry   20 per cent government 

These categorisations will be discussed with Animal Health Australia at their meeting in Canberra on Thursday 23rd March.

Contributions to Monthly Newsletter

During the Executive meeting of AHBIC in Melbourne on March 2, 2000, it was resolved that the monthly newsletter’s publication date should be changed to the 25th of each month.  It was  also resolved that industry should be alerted that the newsletter itself is for policy makers and decision makers in the industry.  It is up to industry as a whole to communicate the items in the newsletter in either written or verbal form to members in order that they are kept informed of the activities of AHBIC.  In summary the editorial policy agreed to is as follows:-

(i) It was requested that AHBIC draw to the attention of elected members of industry that the industry newsletter was being made available to them as industry leaders to report on the activities of AHBIC and issues concerning the wider industry.  In this way, these matters can be communicated with industry at large. In respect of the publications within the industry,  including journals, company newsletters and association newsletters it is desirable that the contents of the monthly newsletter be made freely available for reproduction purposes to ensure the maximum level of communication to all industry participants.

(ii) In respect of the publication dates, a number of journals have expressed the view that the current end of month publication date is not suitable for their own publications.  It was agreed that in future, the deadline for receipt of material for the monthly newsletter would be the 20th day of each month with the publication being mailed by the 25th day of each month.  It is important that contributors note the 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.

(iii) It was agreed at this stage that AHBIC would make the monthly newsletter available to all publications with the exception of sensitive material.  However, rather than submitting individual columns and individual information to some publications and not others, it was felt that all publications should be allowed to use the material contained in the monthly newsletter in whatever form they so desire.

(iv) It was also noted that AHBIC is to hold a review which is being conducted by Dr Carolyn Tanner of Sydney University and the issue of communication with members should be considered in the context of this review.

Adverse Publicity

Industry has received considerable adverse publicity as a result of recent bee attacks and the tragic death of a young mother in Sydney.  This has been followed by bee attacks on dogs on the north coast of NSW and another attack on a young child in Wagga in NSW.  Enclosed with this edition, is a response from the Chairman, Mr Laurie Dewar, outlining industry efforts to overcome some of this adverse publicity.

Goods and Services Tax (GST)

The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) has recently announced a new initiative to ensure that taxpayers have timely and accurate answers to their queries on the new tax system.  Under the Replyin5 initiative, businesses who write to the ATO with specific queries about the new tax system can expect a detailed personalised written reply within 5 working says.  Enquiries can be e-mailed to replyin5@ato.gov.au, faxed to 1300 139 031 or sent to GPO Box 9935 in any Australian capital city.

AHBIC has sent correspondence to this service requesting a determination on the GST implications for honey and apiary products.  These details will be provided to industry when they become available. 

Organic Exports Online

AQIS’s Export Organic Certification Programme is now online, following the official launch of the Programme's web pages on the AQIS web site.

The web pages spell out AQIS’s involvement as a regulatory body for the export of organic produce with useful links to relevant stakeholders in Australia’s export organic industry and the organic industry worldwide.

The stimulus to introduce an export facilitation programme for Australian organic producers was created by increasing international demand for organic produce, and the need to provide assurances about the integrity of the product.  By 1990 Australia had achieved a niche market in the European Union for organic produce and, while this market has continued to grow, other markets have also opened up for organic produce in Switzerland, Japan, the United States, Singapore and Hong Kong.

Media Release - Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry

Quality Australian food and fibre will be on show at the Sydney Olympics and a video and visual media kit will be used to showcase Australia’s clean, green and high-quality food products to several thousand overseas journalists before and during the Sydney 2000 Olympics.

The Federal Government and the NSW Farmers’ Association have produced the video and photographic media kit to take the unique advantage of visiting world media.  The kit was launched by Hon Warren Truss, Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry and Mr John Cobb, the president of the NSW Farmers’ Association.

In conjunction with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the kit will be made available through overseas missions, the internet and the Darling Harbour Media Centre, to the world’s major television networks and newsagencies.

A Visual Feast contains attractive stills and footage, designed for professional use, showing Australia’s rural industries (including a very short segment on the honeybee industry) as innovative, sustainable and committed to producing high quality products.

By providing the international media with video and photographic material, farmer contacts and story leads that can be incorporated easily into stories, we will be giving them every incentive to explore and appreciate rural Australia during their stay.

AHBIC Conference

The AHBIC Conference and Annual General Meeting will be held at the Park Regis Hotel, Southport, Queensland on 10th and 11th July, 2000.  Delegates will need to make their own arrangements for accommodation by calling 1800 644 851.  A group booking has been made and it should be mentioned when booking that the accommodation will be for attendance at the Australian Honey Bee Industry Council Conference.

The Conference this year will be hosted by Queensland Beekeepers Association (QBA) whose Annual Conference will be held on 6th - 8th July 2000 at Southport RSL.  Anyone interested in attending this Conference, please make contact with Bob Johnson (Ph: 07 5445 7512 Fax: 07 5478 6880) for further details.

Minister for Trade Replies on Trade Talks

Extract from correspondence dated 9th March 2000:

“You will have seen the media reports about the inability of members of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to agree in Seattle last December to a new round of trade negotiations.  Mr Vaile continues to work with other trade ministers to seek an agreement that would allow a new round of negotiations to commence.  While this may be possible in 2000, a later start is seen by many as more likely.

However, notwithstanding the failure of the Seattle meeting, negotiations have begun on agriculture.  Unfortunately, from the perspective of Australian exporters, the fact that these negotiations on agriculture are not part of a broader round of negotiations reduces the prospect of cross-sectoral trade offs, making progress in politically sensitive agricultural issues all the more difficult.  Comments about the reductions in tariffs that flowed from the Uruguay Round of trade negotiations show what can be achieved when these cross-sectoral trade-offs are available.  Nonetheless, the Australian Government will be pushing as hard as in the negotiations on agriculture towards meaningful reductions in trade distorting support and protection.”

Plant Health Australia

During the recent Executive Meeting a recommendation was made for AHBIC to apply for associate membership of Plant Health Australia Limited.  Following the determination being made on which category bee diseases are contained, it was felt that it is in industry’s interests to commence work immediately on obtaining a contribution from the plant industry.  The advice from various departmental officers revealed that these efforts would be aided by membership of Plant Health Australia, not as a fully paid member, but through associate membership. 


Packer Report - South Australia
Since my last report the most notable event has been the turn around in the production from Red Gum.  Initially the Red Gum was affected by cool weather which reduced the production early, however the hot weather that has occurred since my last report saw a significant improvement in this honey flow, resulting in a good crop from the source for those beekeepers who persevered.

The other notable honey crop has been the lucerne in the South East of SA.  As reported earlier, the prospects for lucerne looked very good.  Depending on who you talk to, you get a different view of whether it lived up to this potential.  The lucerne flow has finished now but I believe our suppliers from this area are still holding at least 1000 drums of this honey still to be delivered.  It could be as much as 500 tonnes.  This honey will come in over the next few months or be carried over to the next season, depending on the amount of quota individual beekeepers have remaining to be filled this year.  I don’t know what export opportunities exist for the honey but I know the Japanese have been interested in the past.  If they still are, this may be a good opportunity to shift some of this light honey.

Trevor Morgan

Crop Report - New South Wales

Yellow box has finished in the central tablelands with some good crops being reported.  The prospects in the central and southern part of the state for the autumn are not good with very little to look forward to.

Napunyah in the north west will be late with good rains being reported.  Good rains in the central west have made things look brighter for next season.

Stock Report - New South Wales

Very little change from the last report with stocks held by most beekeepers not large.

Eddie Podmore

Crop Report - Tasmania
Tasmania, after a cold snap in the weather at the end of January when most hives were already on leatherwood sites, enjoyed a wonderful ware summer.  Consequently a good average crop of leatherwood honey was achieved.  The colour and flavour are excellent.  A vintage year!  Although the areas were dry, there was sufficient moisture for the leatherwood to flower and yield.

For the first time in 30 years, the stringy bark flowered and produced in some areas in early March.  A few hives were returned to prospective sites and a small amount of commercial honey produced.  Drought relieving rains have occurred in the north and north east of the state during the last week.  Warm weather has returned.  Hives should go into winter in very good condition with plentiful winter stores from late flowering forest species.  Hopefully the downward trend of the Australian dollar will see better prices offered for export honey to offset the huge increase in fuel costs.

There will be a Quality Control Workshop/Field Day at R. Stephens Apiary, Mole Creek on Saturday March 25th to launch our Tasmanian Quality Assured Programme for the Beekeeper.

Shirley Stephens

Crop Report - South Australia
South East: Lucerne pollination has finished and yielded well.  Hives moved onto potata weed and melons, some into scrub area for styphilia.  Banksia budded well in patches, some areas appearing to be later.  Rain will be needed this month.

Barossa: Red gum honey flow was the best for quite a few years.  As this is a vintage area the SA AA has recommended that bees not be left in the area.

West Coast Upper: The tea tree was a breeding flow only, interrupted by too much hot weather to be useful.  Bees lack bloom, owing to harsh conditions.  Prospects for Euc. Diversifolia in the lower part of this region.

West Coast Lower: Tea tree produced honey but the flow was erratic due to the rain and changeable weather conditions.  Euc. Diversifolia well budded in upper areas of lower Eyre Peninsula - expected to flow in mid-April.  Lincoln weed is providing a breeding flow only.

Riverland: Some white mallee starting to bud.  Very good rains, up to 10 inches, which may bud some mallee for next year.  This rain sets citrus buds for next season also.

Central: Good rains throughout the Adelaide Hills areas.  Mangrove will be going well.  Stringy bark and white gum well budded for autumn.

Northern Lower: Tea tree on Lower York Peninsula has finished with breeding conditions only now from ground floras there.  Some potato weed in the  region but also only a breeding flow.  There are odd patches of white mallee budded.

Northern Upper:  Little honey production at the moment.  Prospects limited with grey box budding patchy and many areas lacking moisture.  Isolated patches of ground flora such as potato weed and Lincoln weed where rain has fallen, will assist breeding.  Conditions will not last without follow up rains.

Kangaroo Island: Following a good spring the last three months have been very poor for bees.  Good blossom on the brown stringy bark and sugar gum but no nectar because of dry winters.  Cup gum just starting to flower.  Many bees are weak and will need time to recover if they are to survive winter.  Very little honey taken.                 Kay Lambert

Stock Report - Western Australia

Stock holding is now very strong in WA packers.  The last six weeks have seen excellent deliveries of honey (red gum and mixed species) and saw above expectations being achieved.  Higher stocks could be maintained for some time.

Crop Report - Western Australia

Future Crops - The autumn crops are looking varied due to the weather conditions we are experiencing.  The spring crop is showing good signs of growth and is expected to yield an average crop (taking into account the sites that have fire losses).

Overseas Demand - World buyers continue to show demand for WA honey.  They are aware of our stock situation and pay higher prices compared to the world market.

Eduard Planken

Resource Report - Queensland

The State Government has drawn up a set of Vegetation Management Guidelines (tree clearing guidelines), which will be voluntary for freehold land.  We will be getting a briefing on these guidelines on 22nd March.  They were originally mooted to be compulsory, bot the grazing industry raised such a scream about going broke if they could not clear all the trees, that the compulsory part was dropped.  The timber industry is very concerned at seeing their future resource going up in smoke.  They are retrieving some saw-logs, but they are being cleared much faster that they can use them.  Future carbon credits do not seem to come into consideration.

The SEQ RFA has not been signed by the Commonwealth Government and now appears unlikely.  At the end of the CRA process we were told that the 425,000 Ha. from which logging has been excluded, would mostly become a new class of reserve to be decided over the next two years.  Recently we heard that this would not be so.  It now seems that most of the 425,000 Ha. will become National Park, Conservation Park or Resource Reserve to be decided over the next five years.  The Association is going to have to work hard at this for a long time yet!  As logging is done on a 25 to 30 years rotation and is to stop by 2025, each area that is now logged will go into the reserve area.  A major worry to us is the maintenance of the roads and fire trails which are our access routes to sites.

The Coastal Management Plans are on the go again with our main interest being the retention of fringing mangroves.

Trees around southern Queensland are putting on a very large amount of growth and already the beekeepers cry of “next year” is being heard.  Next year always seems to look good, but it will not be hard to beat this one.

Duncan McMartin

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