March 2002

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ABN 63 939 614 424

Voluntary Contributors to AHBIC

AB’s Honey Koonoomoo Apiaries
Australian Rain Forest Honey R & E McDonald
Australian Honey Bee Improvement Programme PB & CM McPherson
IJ & PA Oakley
Australian Queen Bee Exporters RC & DJ Phillips Pty Ltd
Australian Sungold Queen Bees Pollination Association of WA
Harold Ayton Queen-Bee-Ann Apiaries
Beechworth Honey R. Stephens
Beeline Queens Swan Settlers
Bradbury, GN and DJ Superbee Honey Factory
Bush Honey Stephen Targett
Capilano Honey Limited Tasmanian Crop Pollination Association
CE Mills Tasmanian Honey Company
Coopers Fine Foods T & M Weatherhead
Crop Pollination Association Inc Walkabout Apiaries
Dewar Apiaries Warral Apiaries
HL Hoskinson Weerona Apiaries
Hunter Valley Apiaries Wescobee Limited

AHBIC acknowledges the beekeeper suppliers who contribute via their packer and queen bee supplier to AHBIC. We also urge beekeepers to support those packers/queen bee breeders who contribute to AHBIC.

Does your honey buyer’s or queen bee supplier’s name appear on this list?
If not, then ask ‘why not?’

ANZFA Releases Research on Food Handling Practices in Australia

The Australia New Zealand Food Authority (ANZFA) has released a research report on food handling practices in Australian food businesses. The results of the National Food Handling Benchmark Report showed that businesses have started to use the better practices proposed in the new national food safety standards.

When releasing the report, ANZFA’s Managing Director, Ian Lindenmayer, said that he was pleased that the majority of the food businesses surveyed, such as food manufacturers, food retailers, child care centres, schools, hospitals, cafes and restaurants, both knew about and are implementing safe food handling practices.

‘Most significantly, food businesses with a food safety program in place scored better on food safety than those without. A food safety program sets out in writing how a business will ensure that the food they sell is safe. With the exception of Victoria, these programs are voluntary at this stage, yet they make a considerable amount of business sense.’

‘Large businesses and those handling high risk foods, such as processed meats, poultry, seafood, egg and dairy dishes and prepared salads, were more likely than other businesses to have better knowledge of safe food handling practices and to be using them.’

‘However, it is disappointing that a small but significant proportion of businesses are not aware of the basics of food safety, such as the need to keep high risk food at the right temperature, to protect food from contamination, to clean and sanitise food preparation equipment properly, and to follow personal hygiene and illness management procedures.’

To reduce the risks of producing food that is unsafe, the States and Territories are introducing three new national Food Safety Standards, developed by ANZFA, that require business to have safe food handling practices, premises and equipment and this helps ensure food produced in a business is safe for consumers. It is anticipated that these standards will improve food safety practices in food businesses. This research was a benchmark study conducted prior to the implementation of the food safety standards. Results of future surveys will provide evidence of whether any improvement has occurred. ANZFA commissioned Campbell Research & Consulting to do this research as part of a new initiative to check the effectiveness of new food standards. ANZFA appreciates the assistance of local government officers with the survey.

‘In a 1999 ANZFA report it was estimated that foodborne illnesses cost Australia $2.6 billion each year and that Australians have a one in five chance of contracting food poisoning in any twelve month period. Australia is currently enhancing its surveillance of foodborne illnesses. This will provide better data on changes in the incidence of foodborne illness in Australia and the most likely causes.’

‘I am delighted that a large number of businesses are conscientious about food safety but am concerned that a significant number don’t have the required basic knowledge and are placing their customers at risk.’

‘ANZFA has also developed guidelines and fact sheets on the new Food Safety Standards, including translated fact sheets into fifteen languages. This information can be obtained from the ANZFA website The States and Territories have informed ANZFA that this research into food handling is a useful tool to assist them in implementing the food standards. I would like to commend the States and Territories for their hard work in assisting their local food businesses with these reforms through a variety of methods including seminars, visits and newsletters,’ Mr Lindenmayer concluded.


Last month’s newsletter carried an article re the AFB Smart program in Victoria. It was heralded as an Australian first.

However, there has been an Industry/Department program for AFB running in Queensland for several years now. The benefits are now being realised in the Queensland program. We wish Victoria good luck with their program.

Trevor Weatherhead

AHBIC Executive Meeting

On Thursday afternoon, 14th March 2002, most of the AHBIC Executive met with the Queensland Beekeepers’ Association Executive at the Animal Research Institute, Queensland Department of Primary Industries, Yeerongpilly, Brisbane while in the evening they met with other members of the QBA.

The AHBIC Executive Meeting commenced at the ARI at 8:30am on Friday 15th March. As Mr Lloyd Smith had resigned from AHBIC, his replacement, Mr Roger Masters of Capilano, was welcomed as his replacement.

Honey Imports and EU Ban

It was noted that the EU had withdrawn from sale thousands of jars of Chinese honey due to the presence in the honey of small doses of chloramphenicol, an antibiotic which, in large doses, could cause cancer. It was stressed that this material posed an “extremely small risk to public health”.

Imports of Chinese honey were already to be banned from March 14 after the EU raised concerns about the lack of control on the use of veterinary drugs in China.

Discussions were also held in regard to the testing of honey coming into Australia and the problems being encountered on this matter. It was felt that all honey coming into Australia should be tested at a cost to the importer. This is to be followed up.

The question of the importation of the “new strain” of AFB was considered. It would appear that not much could be done regarding this until an AFB national Control Programme has been put in place.


It was resolved that Mr Alan Fewster be endorsed as our Australian representative for the next Apimondia Congress. It was also suggested that we should consider nominating an official deputy so as we would have someone to assist Alan and who could perhaps follow in his footsteps.

It was also resolved that Mr Bob McDonald be reappointed as Chairman of the Apimondia Bid Committee, together with the members of that Committee, to coordinate the tender for the Apimondia 2007 Congress.

Animal Health Australia

It is expected that the Emergency Animal Disease (EAD) Response Cost Sharing Deed of Agreement will be ratified on 20th March 2002. This will require the setting in place of a levy for a fund to be used in the event of an exotic incursion. It was agreed to set a cap on this amount of $1 million. This levy will be reviewed annually to see how it is progressing.

Further EAD training is to be held and it was proposed to select a beekeeper from each of South Australia and New South Wales to attend.

Plant Health Australia

AHBIC has applied for full membership of Plant Health Australia. The application will be presented at their next General Meeting to be held on 31st May 2002.


Several amendments have been proposed and will be tabled for discussion and adoption, amendment or rejection at the next Annual General Meeting.

Resource Conference

The Natural Resources and Public Land Management Conference is to be held in Canberra on Tuesday 30th April and Wednesday 1st May 2002 at the Australian National University, Canberra.

State Resource Chairmen are reminded to have their papers in as soon as possible. If a paper is not received by 12th April, AHBIC will not fund that person’s attendance at the Conference. This measure is to ensure that prospective participants are fully prepared and do not disadvantage others who have indicated they wish to attend. It should also be noted that AHBIC will be funding one person only from each State.

B-Qual Australia

From Sunday to Wednesday 10th to 13th March, B-Qual had in place an Auditor Training Workshop. Some 14 people were involved and it is understood that it included one Apiary Officer from each State. Each trainee will have to do 20 successful audits before they attain full accreditation. A second training session is planned for September 2002.

Two trial workshops will be held in June, one for nominated beekeepers from Queensland and New South Wales and none for nominated beekeepers in Victoria and South Australia.

It is hoped that these meetings will help to refine the existing documentation. When this has been performed a print run will be made of the B-Qual material.

Biosecurity Plan

Under the EAD Response Agreement, there is a requirement for the production of a biosecurity plan. The plan for our industry has almost been completed and a final draft should be available shortly.

ANZFA Submission re OTC MRL

This submission has been presented to ANZFA but no decision has yet been made. It has been intimated that it will be approved. After the Goodman/McKee work has been finalised, it is expected that industry will have the opportunity and time to discuss this matter and make a final decision.

AFB National Disease Strategy

A policy paper on this matter from Hassall & Associates was presented. This document is to be sent to the States for comment. All States are urged to discuss this papers so as to bring comment to the Annual General Meeting in July.

National Magazine

As not all States have replied to the recent circular seeking information on time, costs, etc of State newsletters, it was decided to leave in abeyance this decision until further information has been received.

HBRDC Chairman

Mr Keith McIlvride’s term as Chair of the R&D Advisory Committee for the Honeybee programme expires on 30th June 2002. The Executive has supported his reappointment for a second term.

Competency Standards

The Competency Standards document has been sent back to the Training Council for further development. Due to financial restrictions this financial year they will not be able to further this matter until next financial year.

National Residue Survey (NRS)

Considerable took place in regard to the NRS regime and whether samples were of blends or directly from beekeeper drums. Mention was also made of various problems that would emerge if residues were found in our honey by overseas countries.

It was felt that NRS should be asked to document the whole system so as it can be looked at to see whether or not all of the testing is appropriate.

Industry Levies

It was considered that we should seek ways in which levy lists could be updated. Because of privacy aspects, such lists cannot be obtained from the Government. AHBIC is to seek assistance from State Associations for a list of beekeepers they feel should be on such a list.

Beeswax Residues

Concern was expressed that beeswax coming from overseas should be tested for the presence of acaracides. If these should get into the wax they will remain there for a very long time. If it became mixed with our own wax this could be a major issue for the industry. It was agreed that AQIS should be approached regarding this matter.

Diary Dates

Following is a schedule of meeting dates for 2002. Please mark these dates in your diary.

FCAAA Queensland Beekeepers Association 20-21 June 2002 Warwick Qld
New South Wales Apiarists Association 29-31 May 2002 Griffith
Tasmanian Beekeepers Association 14-15 June 2002 Launceston
Western Australian Farmers Federation- Beekeeping Section 12-13 July 2002 Perth
South Australian Apiarists Association 24-25 June 2002
Victorian Apiarists Association 13-14 June 2002 Bendigo

Honey Packers and Marketers Association End May/early June 2002
National Council of Pollination Associations 14 July 2002
Australian Queen Bee Breeders Association May 2002 – Woodburn NSW
B-Qual Training Workshops 19 June 2002 – Warwick Qld
26 June 2002 – Renmark SA
Australian Honey Bee Industry Council 15-16 July, 2002 – Perth WA
Federal Council of Australian Apiarists Associations 15 July, 2002 – Perth WA


Crop Report – Tasmania

Tasmania has experienced the worst honey production year in living memory. Extraordinary circumstances combined, resulting in less than 50% of normal honey flow, with no prospects in sight until January 2003 presenting beekeepers of Tasmania with a very real survival crisis. After the initial early warm period in spring, the weather turned back to winter with the coolest summer temperatures ever recorded.

Hives were still being fed in January with only moderate to light ground flora honey being produced. Some areas, particularly the south, produced almost nil, although there was a little blue gum produced very early in that area. Flowering of the leatherwoods was late and spasmodic with just a few patches of warm weather. The nectar flow was very poor as the trees that did flower, did not produce the normal nectar. This applied throughout the State which is unusual. Other years of poor production have usually seen one or two areas yield which would mean some honey was available.

After 3-4 years of average to poor production, a year like this one is more than a disaster. Orders will not be able to be filled. Commercial beekeepers will be hardest hit with very little income to maintain the hives and their families until the next year.

The TBA will be attempting to get some government assistance although, without precedent, this could prove difficult.

Shirley Stephens

Quarantine Report

Well there is not much to report on the Quarantine front for this month. This is a good thing in one way as it means we have not had any incursions.

Trevor Weatherhead

Crop Report – South Australia

There has been a long, completely dry spell.

West Coast - (Upper) Conditions are very dry at the moment and this is reducing the likelihood of any honey being produced during the autumn. Tea tree has not produced honey due to conditions and fairly poor budding. White mallee could yield some honey but would be improved with moisture. Possible prospects from E.diversifolia during winter if conditions are favourable. Honey has been delivered to packers as it has been produced. (Lower) Sugar gum has been disappointing. Lots of flower and nectar but water content too high. Tea tree producing pollen and nectar. Could be some peppermint in month of May, weather permitting.

Northern - (Upper) Very light sugar gum yield. Some bees have gone to the West Coast onto mallee and sugar gum.
(Lower) Tea tree is patchy, with a light nectar yield to date but good pollen yield. Dry conditions have resulted in a lack of Lincoln weed pollen. Prospects: peppermint is patchy, but it could be useful.

Riverland - Report not available

Central - Some mallees are flowering, dryland Tea tree is flowering but the prospects for cup gum look poor. Blue gum is budding, it may flower too early.

Kangaroo Island - Sugar gum is yielding well, Tea tree some yield. Cup gum is budded up.

South East - Although it yielded well in some areas, lucerne stopped producing abruptly on the last week of February, with little or no other crop prospects to go to. Most beekeepers in the South East are sitting waiting for suitable rains to shift onto winter sites. Mixed reports of Banksia cobbing are from poor to below average and in need of a good drink.

Kay Lambert

Crop and Stock Report – New South Wales

Very little to report in the way of honey prospects for the autumn and winter. There are some patches of bloodwood which have budded on the south coast with sites very hard to get. There are also some patches of wooley which have budded but, again, sites are very hard to obtain.

There are also some patches of mugga ironbark in the central west but this also very limited. Napungah in the north west is holding some bud but this is not a general budding.

Good rains in February promised good conditions for spring but very hot weather in March has dried things out with more good rain needed.

Very little change in the stock situation with honey in very short supply and prices still on the increase.

Eddie Podmore

Crop Report – Western Australia

The Marri has been flowering for the past 6 weeks and most beekeepers have had very good extractions of honey, with hives getting back to full strength and good stores of Marri pollen. Hives should remain in good condition through the autumn/winter months.

White Gum (Wandoo ) is flowering and producing nectar. With WA having a severe shortage of honey and the outlook that imported honey may be needed to fill contracts, a good Wandoo flow will take the pressure off to import large amounts. Beekeepers have begun shifting hives off the Marri that is just finishing in the south to their White Gum sites north of Perth.

The banksia and sandplain country need a lot more rain for there to be any hope of much honey over the winter months.

Beekeepers have been happy with the steady increase in the price of honey due to the shortage, with packers paying over the $ 2.00 /kg for all but the very dark honeys.

Kim Fewster

Crop Report – Victoria

As has been the case all season, Gippsland, blessed with adequate rainfall, has been the most reliable in terms of honey production. Coastal banksia and yellow stringy bark are now virtually finished. These species yielded well. Some reports indicate that, those beekeepers who moved hives in early enough, were able to produce four rounds, the major contributor being the banksia. There are a few modest prospects to follow, which will round off a good season for Gippsland.

The picture for the rest of the state is, however, very dismal. Acutely dry, there is worry that these conditions have the potential to affect next season’s prospects. Overall, production in Victoria for season 2001-2, is expected to come in well below average. Some modest production has been reported from yellow mallee and blue gum. In some districts, reported flowerings of apple box and red stringy bark are not doing anything.

A reasonable cobbing of desert banksia in western Victoria, due to commence flowering in April, offers a prospect of some winter honey and hive rehabilitation during this critical period for many beekeepers.

Linton Briggs