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May 2000

Honey  - Australia's Liquid Gold

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


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 Bee Exporters
Australian Rain Forest Honey
Australian Honey Bee Improvement Programme
Beeline Queens
Capilano Honey Limited
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


Development of Beekeeping in East Africa

Following is an extract from correspondence received regarding investment opportunities in East Africa and a request for assistance.

From: Progressive Interventions

Dear Sirs,

Progressive Interventions (PI) is an Irish-registered international development agency focused on helping small and medium enterprise in East and Central Africa. One of the most underdeveloped natural resources in the region is honey production and with the support of international donors, we are working on a number of bee product development projects with various producer groups in the region.

We also help local investors to invest in market opportunities and one such that may have potential here is 'migratory beekeeping'. We are trying to compile a profile for potential African investors and would like to contact anybody doing this in Australia so we can get further information. Perhaps you can help us or can point us to somebody doing this.

Thanking you for your kind assistance,
Best regards,

Tom Carroll,
Programme Development Manager
Bee Products
(Email: pikenya@africaonline.co.ke)

If you can provide assistance in any way, please make direct contact with the writer.

Federal Budget

The Fifth Budget of the Howard Government was brought down on Tuesday 9th May 2000. The initiatives of the 2000/2001 budget announced for the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry were:-

  • $309.4 million for the extended Agriculture – Advancing Australia (AAA) package;
  • $22.3 million for protecting animal and plant health;
  • $8.5 million to strengthen Australia’s quarantine defences;
  • $9.15 million to tighten quarantine border protection for East Timor operations and the Sydney 2000 Games; and
  • $3.65 million, as part of the national biotechnology strategy, to develop systems to ensure accurate identification of the origin of agriculture and food products.
Agriculture – Advancing Australia (AAA)

The major components of the extended AAA package are:

The successful FarmBis and Property Management Planning schemes will be integrated into a new, broader and more accessible programme with substantially increased funding. The new programme will strengthen the skills base of rural industries. The expanded programme begins in July 2001, when funding for the existing FarmBis and PMP programmes expires. Design of the new programme will be settled in consultation with the States and other stakeholders.

For the 2001-01 financial year, FarmBis and PMP will continue but with a new national component introduced in July 2000 to address major national issues such as industry adjustment; creating national and international supply networks; and product quality and safety. It will also encourage increased participation of women and young people in our rural industries. ($167.5 million over four years.

Farm Help – Supporting Families Through Change extends the successful Farm Family Restart Scheme, which helps farmers in severe financial difficulties. About 4,000 farmers have already used Farm Family Restart to support themselves through a crisis or, in some cases, to commence a new life after farming. ($111.2 million over four years)

Farm Innovation – The Key to Success is a two-year pilot programme designed to encourage innovation and diversification in farming. It will help our farmers modernise and diversify their businesses by using the latest production techniques. Farmers and farming enterprises will also receive assistance to develop supply networks in new and developing industries. ($18.2 million over two years)

Farm Growth Through Export Growth – Bilateral Cooperation Agreements will support continuing negotiations with our major regional trading partners to overcome regulatory and other barriers to Australian exports. The agreements with China and Indonesia will be strengthened and new initiatives developed with other markets such as Thailand. ($6.5 million over four years).

Retirement Assistance for Farmers Scheme will be extended until June 2001.

Animal and Plant Health

Australia benefits immensely from our relative freedom from major plant and animal diseases. Our clean green reputation underpins agricultural exports worth about $24 billion per year.

The government will invest an additional $22.3 million over the next four years to maintain Australia’s status as a supplier of high quality, ‘clean green’ agricultural produce. This funding will be provided to Animal Health Australia and Plant Health Australia to strengthen our post-barrier infrastructure and improve our ability to manage disease and pest emergencies. A national approach to animal and plant health will enhance the long-term security of our rural industries.


This year’s Budget includes additional funding of $1.55 million for the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS) to manage quarantine border security during the Sydney 2000 Olympic and Paralympic Games and $7.6 million over four years for managing quarantine risks due to the movement of people and equipment into and out of East Timor.

The budget for 2001-2 includes $8.5 million to allow AQIS to maintain its commitment to the current level of quarantine activities associated with its airport operations and risk analysis functions.

It is said that the 2000-1 Budget initiatives build on earlier Federal Government initiatives, which are delivering, support to farmers and regional communities and should not be seen in isolation.

Other Initiatives

Other Budget initiatives include:

  • implementation of a National Biotechnology Strategy including the introduction of gene technology regulations and a public awareness campaign;
  • continuing the Food and Fibre Chains Programme to build stronger relationships along the agri-chain from the producer through to the consumer;
  • restoring ground water pressure in the Great Artesian Basin, mainly through grants to Queensland, NSW and South Australia to fix bores and replace open drains with piping. (A total of $6.215 million is available in 2000-1);
  • continuing the Government’s Supermarket to Asia Strategy to improve the competitiveness of Australia’s food exports and seize opportunities in the growing markets of Asia;
  • ongoing funding to the Northern Australia Quarantine Strategy to manage the quarantine risks to northern Australia;
  • continuing commitment to monitoring and implementing Regional Forest Agreements which underpin future investment in the forest and wood products industry and provide ongoing security for forest industries and communities; continuing the Plantations 2020 Vision programme and pursuing the development of an Action Agenda for forest and wood products to help drive industry and market development;
  • protecting Australia’s important Sub-Antarctic Fishery from illegal fishing, especially with regard to the Pantagonian toothfish and working on the development of an Action Agenda for Aquaculture; and
  • funding for Natural Heritage Trust (NHT) programmes administered under the Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry portfolio to promote and encourage sustainable agriculture and natural resource management (in 2000-1 $185 million will be provided through AFFA and NHT programmes, with additional funding provided for Landcare and Murray Darling Basin initiatives).
The Budget implications for the rural sector are described in detail on the Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry – Australia website: http://www.affa.gov.au/affa/budget/

The other key aspects of the Budget papers included, of course, the introduction of the Government’s new taxation system.

The following key criticisms have been levelled at the Budget:

  • The tax cuts of $12 billion are supposed to commence from 1 July 2000. However, the effect of bracket creep is already evident in the budget figures. A rough estimate is that there is a claw back from individuals of somewhere between $2 billion and $2.5 billion;
  • Possibly one of the losers from this budget and from tax reform is small business. The effect of the clawing forward of PAYG instalments will mean that business will need to remit payments to the Taxation Office much earlier than was previously the case and these payments are based on turnover and do not allow for non-receipt of payment from customers. Consider this scenario. The Government estimates that the economy will grow by approximately 3.75% and the corporate tax rate is to reduce from 36% to 34%. In that environment the tax take from corporate Australia increases by over $7 billion or more importantly 30%.
  • The inflation rate is expected to be as high as 5.75%. If that is the official expectation then you can expect it to be higher in reality. The much lauded 4% (plus an additional 2% buffer) as an increase in Government pensions and allowances may provide little comfort for those retired and on welfare who must cope with the price increases expected as a result of the GST.
Taxation Changes

On 22nd December 1999, the Australian Honey Bee Industry Council requested a private ruling in respect of GST and its effect on the honey industry. The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) has finally responded to this request and, given the importance of the issue, the private ruling is attached in full for your information. Details of the diesel fuel rebate scheme are also attached. 

Members should also be aware that the ATO has introduced an Australian Business Number (ABN). The ABN is the identifying number which will be used by business when dealing with other businesses. For example, you will need to put an ABN on your invoices to other businesses to avoid having tax withheld from payments to you. You will use the ABN in dealings with the ATO on other elements of the new taxation system and in dealing with other areas of government. Members are urged to contact their accountant or financial advisor for advice on whether they should register for an ABN. 

The Government will introduce Pay As You Go (PAYG) in place of provisional tax. PAYG will affect:-

  • businesses, non profit organisations and government organisations
  • individuals with investment or business income such as self funded retirees, rental property owners, partners in a partnership and beneficiaries of a trust and some trustees
If you are liable to pay provisional tax or company and superannuation fund instalments for the 1999/2000 income year, then you will probably be liable for PAYG instalments. Again, members should contact their financial advisors or accountants for further information on this important change to the taxation system.

Kay Elson to Address the Annual General Meeting

The Australian Honey Bee Industry Council has received confirmation that Ms Kay Elson, Federal Member for Forde and the Government Whip, will be the guest speaker at the Annual Conference to be held at the Park Regis Hotel, Southport, Queensland on 10th/11th July 2000.

Ms Elson has kindly agreed to be the keynote speaker at the Conference following the unavailability of the Hon Warren Truss, Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.

Ms Elson has been Federal Member for Forde since 1996, is the current Government Whip and is a member of the following Parliamentary Committees:-

  • House of Representatives Standing Committee on Family and Community Affairs
  • House of Representatives Selection Committee
  • House of Representatives Joint Standing Committee on Treaties
  • Government Defence and Veterans Affairs Policy Committee
  • Government Education, Training and Youth Affairs Policy Committee
  • Government Communications, Information Technology, Arts and The Centenary of Federation Policy Committee
  • Government Environment and Heritage Policy Committee
  • Government Employment, Workplace Relations and Small Business Policy Committee
  • Government Health and Aged Care Policy Committee
National Workshop – Codex Alimentarius Commission

AHBIC has been invited to attend the workshop on Codex to be held in Canberra on Tuesday 1st August 2000. The workshop will focus on the role and importance of the Codex Alimentarius Commission (Codex) for Australia’s agri-food industry.

The objectives for the industry workshop are:

  • To raise awareness of the importance of the work of Codex for Australia’s agri-food producing industries;
  • To identify measures that will enhance the ability of food producing industries to contribute to Australia’s input to, and decision processes in regard to, the work of Codex;
  • To identify measures that will assist the government in representing the interests of industry across the work of Codex committees.
The outcomes and recommendations of the workshop will be:
  • reported to the National Codex Committee, the Codex Policy Committee*, and to respective government/industry bodies and committees.
  • integrated into the Strategic Objectives for Achieving Australia’s Interest in Codex and incorporated into the Codex Australia work programme; and
  • referred to agri-food industry councils, and representative bodies.
* Codex Policy Committee is a newly established high-level committee of Commonwealth agency officials.

Dietary Changes

The Department of Health has recently released a report on changes to the way in which Australians eat. The most noteable changes in per capita consumption of the various foods are as follows:-
    1978/9 1988/9 1997/8 20yr change (%)
Meat and meat products kg
Poultry kg
Cheese kg
Aerated waters litres
Coffee kg
Wine litres
Beer litres
Tea kg


Excellent Share Returns

As part of the AHBIC Review, consideration will also be given to making the organisation even more financially solid. The following information is provided for your consideration.

Despite the current volatility of the Australian stock market, it is interesting to note that long term investors in the share market have still received excellent returns over the last fifteen years as demonstrated by the examples below.

  1. $A100 invested in December 1986 (nearly a year before the 1987 crash) in a portfolio of shares on the following exchanges would, at close of business on April 20th (after the recent April 17 correction), be worth the following amounts in $A and in real terms (i.e. after reduction for CPI increases):
  2. NZ
  3. The NZ market never recovered from the 1987 crash. Australia’s performance in the last five years has been modest compared with that of Germany, UK, HK and USA where returns are quite spectacular.
VALE: John Herbert Silcock

PRESIDENT - Pollination Association of Western Australia.

Member - Consultative Committee for the Protection of the Bee Industry [Beeguard] WA.

Member of AHBIC

John Silcock has been involved in the WA beekeeping industry in many other ways: founding member of the Western Australian Beekeepers Association and he attended Agriculture WA meetings and was involved in many field days promoting pollination.

One thing that stood out with John was that he was a 'doer' - if he said he was going to do something he eventually would do it. A cucurbit grower rang me after his death and said John had a rare characteristic (for these days) which was that he was a man of his word and had become his friend. Even up until he first felt unwell, he was heading on his first major foray into long distance pollination (3,400 km) to the north of the State where he delivered his bees on time in late April [his son Clayton and long time beekeeper friend Jim Ligman were his companions on the epic trip].

I got to know him well through his involvement with the Beetube pollination system in which he basically became my defacto field assistant. He was the first to commercialise it and a number of cucurbit growers are very grateful he did.

I saw him three days before he passed away in Royal Perth Hospital and I said I didn't know what to say. He said "that’s alright, I can't believe it myself". He was bravely facing his affliction though very emotionally distraught throughout my visit. Only a few beekeepers managed to see him for which I knew he was grateful. All that was happening to John was a shock to him. He said softly "I've always been fit and strong". He could not understand it, nor could anyone else especially his wife Lesley, son Clayton and daughter Rebecca.

John passed away on the 10th May, two months off his 63rd birthday and apparently on his father’s birthday. It was a beautiful sunny day, the 16th of May, when he was laid to rest in Pinnaroo Memorial Gardens [Melaleuca Court] north of Perth under a coppiced Jarrah tree which was again growing tall. John would have loved the spot, where the small grey kangaroos were mingling in and around all the bunches of flowers in the lawns, leftover from mothers day - a good apiary site is what the priest said.

Rob Manning

It’s A Buzz Video

The television production team of Our House which is broadcast on the Nine Network has again consulted AHBIC. Members will be aware that, in consultation with AHBIC and the NSW Apiarists’ Association, Our House is developing a programme in respect of the honey industry and the production company has been given consent to use the "It’s A Buzz" video.

It is pleasing to see that the industry is gaining some positive publicity.

Request from Korea 

We have recently received a request for honey products as follows:

Dear Sir/Madam

We take pleasure in introducing our company to you.

We are a business firm which works in the import and export of health goods in Korea .

We are interested in Royal Jelly ( Fresh, Capsule type) , Korean Ginseng with Royal Jelly, Green Lipped Mussel Extract for Arthritis and wish to ask you for more information about it.

Please introduce me to "The Tasmanian Honey Company (Tasmanian Honey maker)" and "Royal Jelly maker (Royal Jelly of Australia origin )".

Thank for your cooperation and look forward to hearing from you soon.

Best regards,

David Koh

If any supplier is interested in this request, please make director contact with Mr Koh by email at khapdong@mail.aminet.co.kr



Crop Report – Tasmania

Autumn has been quite mild with very little rain. The midlands and southern parts of Tasmania are in drought conditions. Good soaking winter rains are needed. Generally hives have gone into winter in good condition with plentiful stores. The few hives which came back from the heatherwood country for dark stringy bark did reasonably well. Overall hive production, because of a good summer, returned to average yields although this is still well below the usual in Tasmania, because of chalkbrood, hive numbers and hive populations. Domestic sales are sluggish and overseas market inquiries low, with only a few sales in that area. Very good stocks of honey are held by beekeepers.

Reminder: Tasmania’s Annual Conference is at Ulverstone on 16th and 17th June 2000.

Shirley Stephens

Packer Reports - May 2000

Eastern States

Honey Stocks - These are at average levels with the majority of stock held being of light bottling grades. Darker grades, more suited for export sale to Europe, are generally in short supply. Overall stock levels are reducing quickly as the season is well and truly over. 

Stock holding by Beekeepers - Good stocks would be held in the southern regions however, supplies in Northern New South Wales and Queensland would be nearly nil.

Future Crops - Some winter prospects exist from the Channel Country on Yapunyah but access to the area is hampered by wet conditions. Little production is expected here until after winter with cool weather expected soon. 

Longer term prospects for 2000/01 look about normal at this stage.

Overseas Demand - Some regular users of Australian honey have been buying however, in the main, buyers have gone quiet in the past two months due to the strength of the US dollar. Buyers are expected to buy cautiously for this reason as the European currencies are weak. Prices have been driven lower in US dollar terms over the past two months by buyers of honey for the major origins of Argentina, China etc.

Our lower Australian dollar helps to soften the impact of falling US dollar prices however, with the lack of supply and demand for Australian honey, Australian prices should be able to be held at current levels. Exporters selling in Australian dollars need to reassess their prices regularly to avoid selling too cheaply while the Australian dollar is falling.

Lloyd Smith

Quarantine Report

Draft Pest Risk Assessment for Australia

The big news for the month is that the United States Department of Agriculture has finally gazetted the Draft Pest Risk Assessment (PRA) for Australia. This happened on 3 May, 2000. 

The document does not hold anything that should go against us. It has to be out in the public domain for 60 days for comment and then the USDA has to analyse the comments made and make a final decision.

It is hoped that Australia will be in a position to send live bees to the USA for next season. This is a position that industry, mainly through the Australian Queen Bee Breeders Association, has been trying to achieve for many years now. Our thanks go to AQIS for their work in finally having the PRA published and to AHBIC for its lobbying of the relevant government departments.

Varroa in New Zealand

It would seem that the varroa found in New Zealand is the pathogenic variety that Dr. Denis Anderson will be calling Varroa destructor. This then still leaves the question that we have been looking at now for several months and that is whether jacobsoni left on its own with only mellifera and no cerana will reproduce on mellifera. Possible research on this is being looked at.

The possibility of eradicating the varroa from New Zealand has been floated but on a personal note I believe that this will not be possible. It is certainly possible to keep it out of the South Island if it has not already arrived there but in the North Island, I believe it is there to stay. There have been too many finds and it is already in the feral population.

Drone Semen Importation

AQIS is looking at a protocol for importing drone semen to Australia. This was on the agenda a couple of years ago but was overtaken by other events.

With the advent of being able to export to the USA, there have been overtures made to have stock from the USA imported to Australia, through the right channels at Wallgrove, and then reproduced for sending back to the USA. Similar approaches have been made from certain countries in Europe where they feel that our stock does not stand up to their winters as well as the local stock. They would like to be able to get queen bees earlier than they are able from their local producers.

We must be mindful of what has happened in New Zealand and try to eliminate the necessity for people to illegally bring in stock from overseas. Present prices to use Wallgrove are very high so any legal means that maintains our pest free status needs to be considered. I feel that semen importation is one of these means. 

The final draft would be available for comment in Australia before it is implemented.

The Internet – Blessing or Curse

The Internet has become an integral part of our life. It is great for receiving information but it does have its down side. 

Recently a beekeeper in Russia sent an email to many beekeepers in Australia advertising the fact that queen bees were for sale and would be sent by the post. I sent an email back to him telling him of our quarantine requirements in Australia and sent a copy of the correspondence to AQIS. Copies of this correspondence have been circulated by AHBIC.

It goes to show that in a very short time, much information can be sent to beekeepers in Australia and there is no knowing how many have received that message and how they will react to the information they receive.

We are grateful to Dr. David Banks at AQIS for his prompt action in alerting Australia Post to this and Australia Post have agreed to be extra vigilant.

Trevor Weatherhead


Crop Report – New South Wales

Very little change from the last report. There have been good rains over most of the state and, at this stage, it is looking good for a ground flora spring. There are some good patches of yellow box in the central west and also the south west but not as general as the season just passed. Stringy bark is well budded in most areas of the central and south of the state. Napunyah is not as well budded as was expected but will all the good rain, ground flora should be a big help in the Napunyah country.

Stock Report – New South Wales

Very little change from the last report with little or no honey being held by most beekeepers.

Eddie Podmore

Crop Report – South Australia

The potential for serious problems with locusts is still likely in the coming spring. Some locust spraying is taking place under the jurisdiction of councils with chemical supplied by the Primary Industries and Resources SA. Councils have been advised of areas where apiaries could be situated. Reports of locust laying appears to be widespread.

South East: Banksia is yielding in patched, providing good wintering for bees. Styphilia proved useful in patches but has almost finished. Good rains are still lacking in the south east.

West Coast: Prospects are restricted mainly to an area of the west coast where a thunderstorm went through. Lincoln weed is still yielding pollen. Euc. diversifolia, still in its early flowering stage, is yielding in patches where it is budded adequately. Soaking rains needed for now and spring and summer prospects.

Riverland: Good early rains have been received. Some white mallee is looking promising.

Central: No winter prospects. Good early rains will help set up spring.

Northern: Lower: While mallee is patchy. Weather conditions not conducive to honey production. Apiarists are managing their bees in readiness for the coming winter.

Upper: Grey box has yielded some honey, but has practically finished flowering now. Good rains auger well for spring prospects, subject to follow up rains. Ground flora prospects for spring time could be limited thou, owing to the expected bad locust infestation.

Kay Lambert

Resource Report – Queensland

Since last month’s report, we have had visited upon us the "Nature Conservation and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2000 (consultation draft)". This is the enabling legislation for the RFA. It transfers the 425,000 hectare from which logging has been excluded, to a holding tenure of Forest Reserve. This tenure does not change beekeepers' use rights and is to last no more then five years, while permanent tenure is decided. It also creates a new tenure of National Park (Recovery). This tenure can be used for areas which are degraded or have a patch of plantation pine. National Park (Recovery) allows for claims for extra money to help in regenerating these areas. It also excludes beekeeping on expiry of existing permits. This caused considerable consternation amount the Management committee and, after much deliberation, we have put in a submission on the Bill. My contacts have indicated that DSD gave the drafting of this Bill to an EPA officer because they did not want stakeholders shouting at them. He was not given enough time to consult with stakeholders earlier.

We have also been given a chart called the Stakeholder/Government Structure for Implementation. This is headed by the Implementation Advisory Committee, made up of DSD, Queensland Timber Board and Australian Rainforest Conservation Society. It is to decide the tenure and use of all areas. Rod McInnes of the Queensland Timber Board has said in the past that he will not make decisions on the future of other industries. He is away at present, so I have not spoken to him recently, but I will soon. Aila Keto of the Australian Rainforest Conservation Society says she wants full consultation with all stakeholders. She said that there was considerable tension between conservationists and Aboriginal groups until they sat down together and found some Government Officers had been giving each side inaccurate information on what the other side was saying. The old ‘divide and rule’ tactic in action.

Duncan McMartin

Crop Report – Queensland

Most attention for a potential honey crop is concentrated on the Channel Country. Reports indicate in some areas Yapunyah is flowering but not yielding nectar at present (Not all areas are well budded). Gidgee has flowered with poor pollen yield. Ground cover is excellent as a result of heavy rainfall in most areas. The general mood is that Yapunyah will not yield a substantial crop until late July early August, this time lapse will obviously reduce overall production. The main effort of beekeepers will be to maintain colony strength with supplementary feeding where necessary.

Access continues to be of major concern due to flooding and boggy conditions. As the area dries out more and more hives will be shifted to this flow.

Queensland continues to experience a below average season, prospects for the coming season are not forecast to be any better than average up until January. There is some budding on Grey Ironbark and Spotted Gum. Blue Gum is well budded in patches, in the South East with some trees flowering in May which is far to early. 

Following such a poor production season there is very little honey being held by Queensland beekeepers.

Bill Winner

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