October 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
Koonoomoo 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

Smuggler Stung At Sydney Airport

Quick action by AQIS and Australian Customs Service at Sydney International Airport recently foiled an attempt to smuggle bees into Australia.

Following advice from Agriculture NSW, AQIS and Customs targeted an Australian passenger — and beekeeper — returning from Europe. A Quarantine detector dog responded to the presence of what turned out to be eight live queen bees, concealed in pens in the passenger’s shirt pocket.

Smuggling attempts such as this could put at risk Australia’s beekeeping and honey industries, as well as more than $2 billion worth of agricultural production that depends directly on bees for pollination.
Bees can be hosts to parasites such as varroa mites — not found in Australia — which cause deformities in developing bees or kill them outright, and which can only be eradicated by killing all bee colonies and destroying all hives in affected areas. New Zealand is currently engaged in a multi-million dollar campaign to control varroa mite.

Further investigations are under way, and a prosecution is pending. ABHIC will be pushing for the maximum penalty and is currently compiling a submission to be presented to the prosecution.

Breakthrough in Honey Exports to France

Trade Minister, Mr Mark Vaile, has welcomed a trade breakthrough with France that will result in a significant increase in exports of Australian honey into the French market.

Mr Vaile said French authorities had agreed to allow the sale of Australian honey in 400 gram plastic ‘squeeze’ packs that were previously banned under French law. This will provide a major export opening for Australian honey exports, particularly from the Queensland-based company, Capilano Honey, which is a major supplier to the European market," Mr Vaile said. 

"I welcome this market access breakthrough which is the result of close cooperation between industry and government. Australian honey has an excellent reputation for quality and I’m sure this figured highly in the French decision to review their procedures.

The 400 gram plastic squeeze pack is Capilano’s most popular product with 3.5 million bottles sold annually around the world. The decision will allow for a significant lift in Capilano’s honey exports to Europe which currently amount to around 2,700 tonnes per year".

Mr Vaile said the honey decision was another example of industry and government working together to secure better market access for high quality Australian agri-food products overseas.

"The Coalition is committed to working with industry to secure practical trade outcomes for Australian exporters at the bilateral, regional and multilateral level," Mr Vaile said.

Media Release – Mark Vaile, Trade Minister

Locust Control Advice

New South Wales – Broken Hill Region

  • Control of nymphs of the Australian plague locust commenced on 27th September 2000.
  • Operations have continued to focus to the northwest of Broken Hill in the Mundi Mundi, Eldee, Wilangee and Belmont areas and as far north as Smithville, Border Downs and Quinyambie areas.
  • Operations have also taken place to the north of the highway between Broken Hill and Olary (SA) and to the west (Mingary, Kalkaroo, Kalabity, Yarramba, Mulyungerie areas).
  • Periods of cloud cover and recent cooler conditions have hampered control efforts by impairing visibility for aerial spotting and impeding gregarious behaviour of the juvenile locusts.
  • Up to the end of 8th October 2000; 27 targets were treated with 6874 litres of insecticide over a total area of 327.3 square kilometres.

New South Wales – Wilcannia Region

  • Control of nymphs of the Australian plague locust commenced on 29th September 2000
  • Operations initially concentrated in the Wilga area to the northeast of Wilcannia adjacent to the Darling River but have since been suspended (4th October 2000) and are now focussing on an area approximately half-way between Menindee and Ivanhoe.
  • Periods of cloud cover and recent cooler conditions have hampered control efforts by impairing visibility for aerial spotting and impeding gregarious behaviour of the juvenile locusts.
  • Up to the end of 8th October 2000; 4 targets were treated with 668 litres of insecticide over a total area of 31.8 square kilometres.

New South Wales – Menindee Region

  • Control of nymphs of the Australian plague locust commenced on 4th October 2000.
  • Operations have focussed in the Boola Boolka, Denian, Yallambe and Albermarle areas north of Sayers Lake (approximately half-way between Menindee and Ivanhoe).
  • Periods of cloud cover and recent cooler conditions have hampered control efforts by impairing visibility for aerial spotting and impeding gregarious behaviour of the juvenile locusts.
  • Up to the end of 8th October 2000; 9 targets were treated with 746 litres of insecticide over a total area of 35.5 square kilometres.

Other New South Wales Regions

  • Wentworth/Pooncarie/Ivanhoe/Hillston: Reports continue to be received and subsequent evaluations by Australian Plague Locust Commission (APLC) officers are scheduled to commence this week. At present infestations appear to be of less substantial size and of younger age than those further north. Under favourable conditions, these populations should consolidate to form potential targets as they age and are reinforced by subsequent hatchings. Aerial spotting is also expected to commence in the near future.
  • Condoblin/Hay/Balranald/Narrandera: Increasing numbers of reports are now being received from these areas. Forecast hatching should be well advanced but reports from NSW Rural Land Protection Board officers suggest that these, so far, remain small in area.
  • Tibooburra/White Cliffs: These areas have produced little activity as eggs continue to remain dormant pending adequate rain to raise soil moisture levels sufficiently for development to resume. (Some isolated reports of smaller scale locust activity have recently been received from the area between White Cliffs and Wilcannia.)

South Australia

  • Riverland (Waikerie/Renmark): These areas continue to produce few reports or APLC confirmation of significant locust populations south and east of the Murray River. Significant reports and confirmed sightings are more frequent in areas north and west of the River in an area agreed to be managed by Primary Industry and Resources South Australia (PIRSA). Populations are currently young and require further development before management intervention is likely. Some areas close to Morgan may require landholder management or agency intervention.
  • Yunta: Fewer reports have been received recently, however, APLC officers will evaluate the locust situation in this district in the near future.


  • Mallee (Mildura/Ouyen): Only very few reports of locust activity are being received from the areas west and south of Mildura. This region continues to be monitored by Natural Resource and Environment (VNRE) officers.
Australian Plague Locust Commission

Australian Quarantine Inspection Service (AQIS)
From time to time, AQIS advises AHBIC of various quarantine matters which may be of interest to industry participants.

Shipping Containers
Shipping containers enter Australia carrying a variety of imported goods or as empty containers, many of which are sent to rural areas for loading of export produce. The AQIS Import Clearance Program works with Australia’s import industry to minimise the quarantine risk posed by shipping containers, and has inspectors at all major seaports.

More than a million shipping containers enter Australia each year. About 15 per cent are found to have external contaminants – including soil, grain, live snails and other organic matter – that represent a quarantine threat. Through ‘land-bridging’, containers are transported between major metropolitan cities by rail and road, potentially exposing rural areas to quarantine risks.
Recent studies of soil detected on shipping containers found that more than 80 per cent of soil contains exotic fungi, which could have harmful effects on domestic agriculture. Giant African snail and other ‘hitch-hiker’ pests are a significant risk, especially for Australia’s northern ports, where tropical or subtropical pests could have significant impacts on agriculture.

  • To minimise the risk of contamination being spread with imported shipping containers:
  • containers moving to rural areas require external inspection at time of discharge, and all containers intended for land-bridging are inspected at time of discharge
  • there is targeted external inspection of containers delivered to importers at the port of discharge
  • all containers from countries with giant African snails require external inspection at time of discharge; and
  • all empty containers will undergo thorough internal and external inspection using industry based Quality Assurance arrangements.
AQIS will continue surveillance of imported containers and set targets toward improved performance based on surveillance outcomes. AQIS will also increase industry involvement in the prevention and removal of contamination through an awareness strategy.

AHBIC is currently compiling our comments on container shipping.

Imported Packaging Material
AQIS is responsible for the screening, surveillance and clearance of cargo and associated packaging from overseas. Timber and other materials used for packaging around imported goods is often termed dunnage. Timber used as dunnage is usually of a very low quality and can constitute a high quarantine risk. However, there are other contaminants that can be associated with cargo such as soil, insects, seeds, straw or snails.

Each year about 2.6 million consignments of air cargo, bulk sea cargo or containerised cargo arrive from overseas. It’s impossible for AQIS to inspect all these consignments, so risk analysis, profiling, certification by overseas authorities or treatment providers are used to manage the risks these consignments pose. The difficulty of addressing these risks is illustrated by a recent incident in which inspectors found an adult exotic longhorn beetle as well as large numbers of beetle larvae in packaging at a bond store in Sydney.

Additional funding has allowed AQIS to increase resources to undertake general monitoring of packaging and dunnage on wharves, in registered premises and airfreight depots. Surveillance units were established in Cairns, Townsville, Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth from November 1997 and inspections of cargo packaging were carried out at major airports, seaports and deconsolidation depots to accurately identify the extent and distribution of the concerns associated with high-risk packaging.

Asia – particularly Southeast Asia – has been identified as the greatest packaging-related source of risk from contamination and exotic incursion (apart from soils and other insects). Countries such as the United States, Canada and New Zealand have similar concerns regarding the pest and disease risk of imported packaging materials. A recent incursion of Asian longhorn beetle in the USA was attributed to imported packaging from China, and eradication has so far cost more than $A14 million.
It is difficult to apply one overall solution to the issue of imported packaging: a combination of measures has been considered, and will be progressively implemented. These measures will involve a commitment by AQIS and industry to enhance co-regulation initiatives and to improve information provided to exporters, governments and overseas suppliers. The surveillance by AQIS staff of cargo packaging will continue. AQIS will also be pursuing the development and acceptance of international standards (non-infestable) packaging with concerned countries such as Canada, New Zealand and the United States.

Fireblight Risk
Australian apple and pear crops would be hit with the devastating fireblight disease under import controls proposed in a new report, the industry’s peak body has reported. The Australian Apple and Pear Growers Association (AAGPA) has rejected a draft risk assessment released by Biosecurity Australia. AAGPA chief Jon Durham has advised that the proposals were based on flawed science which would not stop fireblight coming from New Zealand.

AHBIC has expressed to the authorities, their concerns on the proposed import of apples from New Zealand and is currently compiling a submission on the subject.

The Australian Dollar
1. The $A has risen so far this year by 6% against the $NZ but has fallen by the following percentages against the following currencies:
  • $US  16%  Yen  12%  Pound  7%
  • $Can  14%  Swiss Fr  9%  Euro  4%
  • The Trade Weighted Index (TWI) has fallen 11%. The $A has fallen against the $US by more than most major currencies.
2. The $A reached a new record low against the $US, below the $US55.3 set during the 1998 Asian crisis and below the $US57.1 1986 ‘banana republic’ level.

3. The lower $A and high fuel prices helped the merchandise import bill to reach a record $10.7bn in August. Although monthly imports were distorted by GST effects, nearly all categories of imports were up in value in August. The higher cost of consumer imports could raise the CPI.

4. The lower $A is good news for exporters. Exports continue to break records and contribute to GDP growth and employment. While the world gold price has fallen by 5% this year in $US terms, it has risen 14% in $As.

5. The lower $A is also a bonus for Olympic visitors and is reported to have provided a $50m bonus for SOCOG from the sale of broadcast rights in $US. Broadcasting and sponsorship deals were in $US and budgeted in at US70 cents.

Upcoming Conferences
The following notices have been received concerning future seminars and are included for the information of those who may be interested in attending.

Organic farming ... is it sustainable?

  • Organic farming has come of age. And organic food production is now worth many millions of dollars per year. But, despite its appeal to many consumers, organic food production remains controversial.
  •  The long term sustainability of organic farming is a question of significance and importance to Australian agriculture and will be the subject of a special
Public Seminar
Hosted by
The Eastern Branch of the
Australian Institute of Agricultural Science and Technology
and proudly supported by
Grape & Wine Research & Development Corporation (GWRDC)
Du Pont (Australia) Ltd
Novartis Australia
Phosyn International
The Land Newspaper
When? Thursday, 9 November 6:00pm (registration from 5:30pm)
Where? North Sydney Anzac Memorial Club, Cammeray
Cost? AIAST members and students $25
non-members and visitors $30
Four leading speakers
with interests in organics, traditional agriculture and environmental management:
• Scott Kinnear, President of the Organic Federation of Australia;
• Andrew Monk, Executive Auditor for Biological Farmers of Australia;
• Dr Ross Higginson, Soil Scientist, formerly with the Environment Protection Authority; and 
• Ian McClintock, NSW Farmers Association
Roger Fitzsimmons: Phone: (02) 9943 0090 Fax: (02) 9943 0089
Email: aiastensw@optusnet.com.au

Avcare Summit
National Convention Centre, Canberra - Monday 30 October 2000
Food integrity - satisfying the consumer appetite
"To produce food is to create, and to create well is an act of integrity"
Proudly supported by Dow AgroSciences and DuPont (Australia), the theme for the Avcare Summit 2000 is food integrity - the heart of consumers’ thinking when purchasing food. Food integrity embraces brand quality, food safety and nutritional value, as well as insights about where and how the food is produced.
Food integrity will underpin the next wave of consumer demand, paving the way to turn the traditional supply chain into a consumer-driven demand chain. Both government and industry have responded to this challenge with new ground breaking food legislation, supported by quality assurance with traceability powers back to individual animals and paddocks.

Time Session Presenter(s)
Facilitated by Tim Powell, Cox Inall Communications
8.30 am Welcome Avcare President, Mr Mark Allison
8.35 am Official opening Senator Judith Troeth MP
Parliamentary Secretary Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry
8.55 am Keynote Dishing up food integrity Professor Mark Wahlqvist
Head Department of Medicine Monash University 
9.40 am Winning support for GT regulations Emeritus Professor Nancy Millis
Genetic Manipulation Advisory Committee
10.10 am Women in Agriculture - to the farm gate and beyond
Dr Wendy Craik
Executive Director
National Farmers’ Federation
10.40 am Summing up and questions Facilitator
10.45 am MORNING TEA
11.10 am Export reputation - Australia’s best friend Mr Xavier Martin
Grain grower and livestock producer
11.40 am Managing risk, delivering food integrity Mr Chris Chan
Director Science & Risk Management
Safe Food NSW 
12.10 pm Tracking the consumer appetite Mr Charlie Nelson Director,
ACNielsen Futures
12.40 pm Summing up & questions Facilitator
12.45 pm LUNCH
1.20 pm The global supermarket - Canadian perspective
Dr Lorne Hepworth
Canadian Crop Protection Institute
2.05 pm The fact and fiction in the new technology debate
Ms Paula Fitzgerald
Executive Manager
Agrifood Awareness 
2.35 pm Feeding the consumer - who has the power? Mr Tony Bilson
Restaurateur and Food Consultant
3.05 pm Summing up & questions  Facilitator
3.30 pm You decide - choosing the menu for food integrity
Panel discussion led by futurist Mr Richard Neville with participation from the audience and speakers 
4.55 pm Closing remarks  Avcare President,
Mr Mark Allison
Full conference registration (including dinner) $275 (members) 
$330 (non-members)
Day attendance only (not including dinner) $225 (members) 
$250 (non-members)
Dinner only (30 October)   $100 (members) 
$100 (non-members)
$95 (partner) 
Conference proceedings only   $50 (member)
$55 (non-member)
Please note: All prices include GST - a tax invoice/receipt will be issued upon registration.
Debbie Kendall on (02) 6230-6399 or e-mail: summit2000@avcare.org.au
Avcare looks forward to seeing you in October.

Plant Activists Act
Conservationists have recently called on the Federal Government to take responsibility for threatened vegetation instead of relying on the states.

The Humane Society International (HSI), World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and the Tasmanian Conservation Trust (TCT) asked Environment Minister Robert Hill to list and protect 490 different vegetation types under new federal environment laws.

Activists want the government to protect vegetation under its Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act. If used to full effect, the EPBC Act has the potential to curb increasing levels of land clearing throughout Australia. This is a reference to record levels of land clearing in Queensland – 408,000ha last year.

The EPBC Act offers a powerful tool for the Federal Environment Minister to intervene and the conservationists want to make the most of it.
HSI Campaigner Nicola Beynon

HPMAA Representatives to AHBIC
As a result of the recent Honey Packers and Marketers Association of Australia (HPMAA) Annual General Meeting, AHBIC has been formally advised of their representatives to AHBIC for the current year. They are Mrs Carmel Barlow, nominated as the Deputy Chairman, Mr Eduard Planken, as Executive Member and Mr John Taylor a Council Representative. In accordance with the AHBIC Constitution, Mrs Barlow’s position as Deputy Chairman will be ratified by the AHBIC Executive Committee at its next meeting on November 16, 2000.
Our congratulations go to Mrs Barlow on her appointment as President of the HPMAA and her nomination as Deputy Chairman of AHBIC.


Crop Report – South Australia
Bee losses resulting from the spraying for locusts has already occurred. A dry spell has been followed by some useful rainfall in some areas, but more will be needed as well as good bee flight weather to make use of the current Salvation Jane resource.

West Coast: (Upper) The spraying of locusts in this area commenced a few weeks ago. Some black mallee breaking which may be useful.

West Coast: (Lower) Euc. incrassata is producing surplus nectar but small honey loads are the only benefit. Blue gum is patchy with watery nectar. There are prospects for Euc. socialis.

South East: (Upper) Canola mixed yields have now finished, beekeepers moving onto Salvation Jane and small patches of blue gum. There are patches of Euc. incrassata. Paper bark tea tree is flowering. Some jane was badly frosted early in the week of 9th October.

South East: (Lower) Bees are breeding on currant bushes but there is not much nectar.

Kangaroo Island: Canola is just finishing. Euc. diversifolia is going well; bees going well. It has been very wet and prospects are good.

Riverland: The citrus went very quickly with poor yield. Most bees have swarmed. There are no prospects on mallee, all the bees will be leaving the district.

Northern: (Upper) Salvation Jane is looking better than is has for a number of years although it needs rain for flowering to continue and realise potential. Spraying programme to control locust hatchings is restricting the use of jane prospects. Limited area of blue gum yielding some honey although significant flowering has occurred during autumn/winter.

Northern: (Lower) Patchy blue gum has started to yield when weather conditions are suitable, as too has jane. Locusts not in this area yet; fly-ins of locusts are likely to start in November. Prospects: Jane is coming on well, but warm weather and adequate moisture necessary. On lower York Peninsula Euc. diversifolia is looking good.

Barossa: Patchy blue gum and jane producing when the weather is suitable. Earlier jane has dried off in the recent warm period.

Central: Good rain. Bees well prepared are in good condition, however, bees which have come out of winter are still coming up. Canola has finished. Eucalypts are growing but there isn’t any bud evident. Prospects between now and Christmas are limited.

Kay Lambert

Crop Report – Western Australia
The spring honey flow is just ending with reports of good yields on the coast sites, the Salvation Jane was not as good as last year, as expected, with the very dry year the west is having. 

Beekeepers are finishing their last round before deciding if they will shift onto their goldfields sites. 

Reports are that it is very patchy with some areas heavily budded and flowering already so some sites not showing much promise. 

The Powder Bark could flower later in the summer but the outlook is for a below average honey crop, with our Red Gum not expected to be of much benefit this year.

Reports from Kunnanurrra are that there is money to be made in the pollination of crops with demand for beehives up there very strong. A few beekeepers are shifting their hives back down south so they can avoid the very hot summer and to rebuild hives .

Kim Fewster

Crop Report – Tasmania
Climatic conditions during September and early October have been very stressful for bees and beekeepers. Snow and cold winds and low temperatures have led to heavy sugar feeding. Chalkbrood, quite early, is now on the increase resulting in a pollen shortage and the inability to take down feed and the queens not laying – generally hives going backwards. Fine warm weather is needed desperately in all areas of the state.

Queen rearing is just beginning with most of the commercial apiarists at least three weeks later than usual. Other have taken their hives to warmer areas (east coast) and have begun well.

Conditions for ground flora look promising – cape weed and tea tree out at the moment. Most areas have received good rains. Pollination is in progress - orchards and vegetables. The leatherwoods have put on growth indicators which should result in good flowering.

Small orders are continuing for overseas although domestic sales are low, probably as a result of the Olympic Games hype and expenses.

Possible fireblight and varroa incursions are a constant worry for industry participants, together with sugar and fuel price rises. Tasmania’s revamped Community Forestry Agreement will be signed in Hobart on 2nd November, 2000.

Shirley Stephens

Crop Report – New South Wales
Good rains last week over most of the state and good follow up rain this week will ensure good ground flora and also will help the stringy bark for the autumn. There was not a lot of honey produced from the canola but paterson’s curse is looking good. All that is needed is some hot weather. The good rains in the north will help with short budded trees. Yellow box in the central west along with green mallee are starting to flower but they also need hot weather to help yield.

With the rain coming in October the prospect of mugga ironbark budding is also looking promising.

Stock Report – New South Wales

Very little change with some canola honey coming onto the market but overall honey is still in short supply.

Eddie Podmore

Crop Report And Stock Position - Queensland
Queensland continues to suffer from a lack of honey production. A rain bearing front crossed the state in mid October bringing only slight relief as it was followed immediately by strong westerly winds.
Some honey has been extracted from Bimble Box in the Channel Country, although rising temperatures and ant problems are forcing most beekeepers out of the area. Should another rain depression cross the state, Brush Box may become a viable prospect - unfortunately Brush Box is an unreliable honey crop.

Honey producers are scouring the state looking for prospects. Storms will assist when they start to occur. In the meantime it is a battle to keep hives alive with widespread reports of hives dying out through starvation - a position not helped by rising prices for refined sugar. Larger operators have moved south operating on Canola and Salvation Jane but sites are not easy to find. 

With such poor conditions honey stocks held by beekeepers are very low.

Bill Winner

Crop Report – Victoria
The difficult beekeeping season continues in Victoria. As reported in August and September, the cold and wet early spring affected colony strength and individual build up of populations has been uneven throughout a lot of commercial apiaries.

Many commercial beekeepers are reporting they have some loads in good condition, but they have others that are taking a lot of time and effort to get anywhere near a productive level. Some beekeepers report they have virtually written off a lot of production in he short term and are concentrating their efforts in having everything up to scratch for the expected late summer/early autumn crop prospects.

Some reports received complain that honey prices are not good enough to provide a reasonable return after meeting costs that continue to escalate. Reports indicate this in turn is reducing incentives to further invest in the industry and to attract seriously commercially minded new people to the industry.

The best spring prospect for honey remains the paterson’s curse flowering in southern NSW. The size of this crop will depend on rainfall over the next few weeks and whether the flowering will extend to say early December.

Some bees have been moved to the south coast of NSW where grey iron bark is flowering and represents a good prospect. Yellow box is well budded in some Riverina districts, but needs steady warm weather to yield – something that is yet to be experienced by Victorian beekeepers this season.

Yellow gum in some central Victoria districts has disappointed due to the prolonged cool and generally unstable climate this season. Enough bud to do something came through the winter. There would still be time for patches to yield, if the weather warms up, although most commercial apiaries have moved out onto paterson’s curse sites. Areas of red box, yellow box and red gum are also prospects in central Victoria.

Beekeepers will disperse widely over the mid summer months, seeking patches of red gum, mallee, irrigation and coastal clover and other bits and pieces to produce seed crops and to keep the bees in the best condition possible in preparation for the late summer/autumn prospects.

A good rain has just extended across the state, the heaviest falls in the north east, where falls of up to 5 inches (125mm) were recorded in the mountain country. Further westward in the state and to the curse country of the north, falls recorded were much smaller.

Further heavy rain has drenched Victoria and the NSW Riverina. The weather is much warmer, improving all prospects.

Linton Briggs