BEELINE - a Queensland Perspective
Number 1 Autumn 1997
From the General Manager

Beeline is Hamish Lamb's initiative and has received some funding for its establishment. The main objectives of the magazine are to:

Detail information and updates on Departmental activities associated with the apiary industry.

Extend to beekeepers relevant information that can lead to improved production.

Provide a forum where beekeepers can raise problems and exchange ideas.

The farm gate value of the Queensland apiary industry has recently been estimated at $14 million, and this does not include the pollination service to many important crops. In order to protect and support the industry Departmental priorities towards 2000 have been established and include:

Maintaining freedom from exotic  diseases.

Managing the major endemic bee diseases, especially American foulbrood.

Maintaining natural floral resources  and access to them.

Gaining cooperation from the large  number of amateurs who keep bees.

Your support in helping us address these issues will lead to a stronger industry confidently competing in world markets.

Good reading.
John Walthall, General Manager, Intensive Livestock Industry Services.

From the Editor
Welcome to the first issue of Beeline. This is a DPI, Queensland project set up to help the beekeeping industry. We know the information will be of interest to you whether you are a commercial producer or a small operator.

Beeline will be produced every four months and contains articles from Apiary Section staff and industry leaders.

This issue contains information on the interpretation of the pathology report for the honey culture test for AFB - by Wendy Ward. We have the first of a regular feature -The Floral Report, contributed by Peter Warhurst. I have contributed articles on AFB statistics, a beekeeping industry personality profile, as well as a feature photo story. We will be featuring industry personalities - you may be asked one day!

Mr John Walthall, Intensive Livestock General Manager, Department of Primary Industries, Queensland, has kindly agreed to launch our magazine.
Until next time - keep reading.
Hamish Lamb.

Beeline is compiled by Hamish Lamb, ARI, Yeerongpilly. 
Copyright The State of Queensland, Department of Primary Industries 1997.

Information contained in this publication is provided as general advice only. For application to specific circumstances, professional advice should be sought.

The Department of Primary Industries, Queensland, has taken all reasonable steps to ensure the information contained in this publication is accurate at the time of publication. Readers should ensure that they make appropriate enquiries to determine whether new information is available on the particular subject matter.

Design, layout, production: Morris Lake
Information Extension Officer, DPI  Queensland.

The DPI Library Link

by Doug Freckelton

The ARI library is part of DPI's Client Information Services Unit.

The library collection includes some beekeeping books and journals, and through the library you can search the world.

So what can we do for beekeepers? You are welcome to visit the library to read books and journals and we can offer some personal assistance if you need it. We charge for other services like photocopying or obtaining documents from other libraries (we have links with libraries throughout the world) and for online computer searches. Our fee charging systems are currently under review. If there are other services beekeepers would like from us we would be happy to consider your suggestions.

These are the journals and newsletters available for use in the library.
American Bee Journal Apiacta Apiculture (Western Australia Deptartment of Agriculture) Australasian Beekeeper Australian Bee Journal Australian Honey Board, Annual Report Bee Briefs (Department of Agriculture of New South Wales) Bee Craft (British Beekeepers Association) Bee Culture Bee World (International Bee Research Association) Beekeeping Notes British Bee Journal C.A.A. News (The Official Newsletter of the Commercial Apiarists Association of New South Wales) Canadian Bee Journal From the U. C. apiaries, University of California, Oakland, California Gleanings in Bee Culture Honey Plants (Department of Agriculture of Western Australia) Honey Research Council. Annual Report Honeybee Research and Development Council: 5 year research and development plan 1991-1996 Journal of Apicultural Research Journal of the Bee Research Association The New Zealand Beekeeper  Queensland Apicultural Journal USDA Agriculture Handbook. Contact Animal Research Institute Locked Mail Bag No.4 MOOROOKA Q 4105 Phone: (07) 3362 9467 Fax: (07) 3362 9609

The floral report
by Peter Warhurst
After the recent rains, many of the very dry areas have been well watered while the northern Downs has missed out. Many of the trees have new growth and are budding for later in the year. In general, the Gumtop Box or Brown Box is patchy and variable in its budding. Some have finished flowering, others still budding and many growing.

Spotted Gum, which has had a long holiday, is budded in many areas but more rain is needed as severely stressed trees drop their buds. Most of this in the South Burnett is expected to flower in July and August.

Broadleaf and Bluetop lronbark normally bud up at this time of the year so the recent patchy rain may determine the degree and extent of budding.

On the Granite Belt, the New England Blackbutt and Red Stringybark started flowering in late December and are almost finished. Combined with dandelion or flat weed, there seemed to be a super of honey produced although most beekeepers missed the early part of this flow.

Narrowleaf lronbark has budded in many areas and should start flowering in July in the Burnett region and later for the more southerly stands.

Yellowbox looks very healthy and in general seems to have budded, but it has a long time before flowering.

Floods in the Warrego, Paroo and Bulloo Rivers should ensure a good budding on the Yapunyah and provided the rains
come again in April, May and June, good pollen should also be available from the shrubs and wild flowers.

Melaleucas on the coast seem to have been well watered recently so they may yield provided the rain stays away when they are flowering.

Again we depend on the rain but prospects for later in the year look very good so here's hoping for a good season.

Yapunyah Tree

A bee joke
Where do baby bees sleep?
In an apiarycot!

American foulbrood control program for Queensland

by Fraser Trueman, ARI
After consultation with the apiary industry, a five year American foulbrood (AFB) control plan was introduced in Queensland on 1 July 1996. The major objective of the plan is to reduce the number of AFB infected apiaries in Queensland to pre 1990 levels. The success of the program depends upon.
All beekeepers registered with the Department of Primary Industries, as required under the Apiaries Act 1982.

Identification of apiaries infected  with AFB.

Quarantine and restrict movement  of AFB infected apiaries.

Control and eradicate AFB from  infected apiaries

Progress to date


A $10 compulsory registration fee was introduced in 1996, enabling a chase-up of beekeepers failing to register, and some improvements to the computer database. There have been 157 new registrations recorded and 948 cancellations. Most cancellations were in the 1-39 hive group and included those who no longer kept bees, or felt they did not receive $10.00 value from beekeeping.

AFB identifications

During 1995 and 96 state-wide seminars were held to raise the awareness of AFB. Beekeepers were encouraged to regularly examine brood, and submit any suspect material for laboratory diagnosis. Some positive AFB cases resulted from this strategy.

In July 1996 honey testing was introduced targeting beekeepers in south-east Queensland with 1-49 hives (post in sample), and all larger beekeepers (via packers).

AFB results of honey testing.

1-49 hives    1138 tested  48 new positive cases
50 or more     304 tested   13 new positive cases

Some beekeepers in south-east Queensland have failed to supply a sample, and will be chased-up as a condition of re-registration this year. Beekeepers with 1-49 hives in the remainder of Queensland will be required to submit a bulk honey sample prior to re-registration in 1998.

It is pleasing to note that AFB in the 149 hive group is about half the anticipated rate.

Quarantine and Movement Control

At this time 148 apiaries in Queensland are under quarantine with AFB disease. This prevents sale of hives, and only moving clean hives after a thorough inspection for clinical disease.

Control and eradication

It is not possible for the Department of Primary Industries apiary field staff to undertake all hive inspections and supervise control activities. Three AFB workshops have been held in southeast Queensland for beekeepers with infected hives. At the workshop disease identification, control options and equipment sterilisation are fully covered. This allows the beekeeper to implement an AFB control plan with back-up and advice from the Department of Primary Industries.

There have been success stories with AFB eradicated from 11 apiaries, that have proved negative on hive inspections or repeat bulk honey tests.


The success of the AFB program rests with every beekeeper. The bulk honey test provides a sensitive detection tool, and control options do work but require commitment. As the AFB spore can survive for many years some set backs can be expected, but with regular brood inspections and use of sanitary beekeeping husbandry the bug can be beaten.

Beekeeper QUIZZ

Q1 How many cells in a frame? (incl  both sides)
Q2 What is the average moisture content of honey?
Q3 What is the common name of Lopostemon confertus.
Q4 What is the optimum temperature inside a beehive?
Q5 What is the Botanical name of Grey lronbark?
Q6 How many bees would be found in a strong double hive?
Q7 How many drone bees would be found in the strong double hive?
Q8 How many registered beekeepers are there in Queensland?
Q9 What is AFB, a fungus, bacteria, virus, or microsporidia?
Q10 How many members does the Queensland Beekeepers Association have?

click here for the answers

Honey culture test for American foulbrood disease (AFB)

by Wendy Ward

Interpretation of Pathology Report

It has come to our notice that some of you may be confused when you receive the Pathology Report for the honey culture test for AFB. The report contains words such as topography, aetiology, diagnosis, and bacterial colonies. These are scientific terms with which you may not be familiar.

Let us see if I can clarify some of these terms for you, and also explain the meaning of some of the comments which may appear on the Pathology Report.

As most of you would know AFB is caused by a bacterium called Paenibacillus larvae. This bacterium can be isolated from honey which has been extracted from hives infected with AFB disease.

The first confusing word which appears on the Pathology Report (below your name and address) is topography.
Topography is a term for the description of the organ, location or medium which was examined for evidence of disease. In this case the topography is honey.

The word diagnosis then appears on the report.

Diagnosis is a term for the identification of a disease or condition. If your hives are infected with AFB 'American foulbrood' will appear as the diagnosis.

The next word which may be confusing is aetiology.

Aetiology means the agent that is responsible for causing the disease. Again if your hives are infected with AFB, Paenibacillus larvae will be printed beside aetiology if a positive diagnosis of AFB has been made.

Some apiarists have also asked for an explanation of the meaning of the terms used in the comment section of the Pathology Report.

If your honey contains bacterial spores of P. larvae, colonies of this organism will appear on the culture plate after the incubation period. We allocate a category to the positive result according to the number of colonies grown on the culture plate. The categories are designated 1+,2+ end 3+.

1+ category means that the number of colonies of P. larvae counted on the culture plate was between 1 and 20.

2+ category means that there were 21-50 colonies of P. larvae counted on the plate.

3+ category means that more than 50  colonies were isolated.\

Honey Samples being 
received & processed

These categories also provide a guide as to the likelihood of finding clinical signs of AFB in the brood boxes of your hives. Research has indicated that if your honey has been designated in the 1 + category you will have only a 56% chance of finding signs of AFB in the hives represented by that particular honey sample. A 2+ category means that there is a 79% chance of detecting clinical signs of AFB in the brood. 

Honey being cultured 
on a plate
A 3+ growth of P. larvae indicates that will be a 100% chance of funding AFB in the hive or hives.

If we have not isolated P. larvae from your honey the Pathology Report will show No Diagnosis. This does NOT mean that we have not tested your honey.

I hope this information helps with the interpretation of your Pathology Report.

If you have any further questions you can always contact me on (07) 3362 9446 at the Animal Research Institute at Yeerongpilly.

Beekeeping personality profile    Duncan McMartin

Many may already know the man from Nambour.

Those of you who think you know him may just be in for a surprise after reading this.

I caught up with Duncan after the February QBA management committee and I asked him about himself and how he got into beekeeping

Q Where were you born?
A In Brisbane in 1941.

Q Do you have a family?
A No, only a brother.

Q What sort of jobs have you had in the  past?
A I worked in a variety of jobs after leaving school at 14 -including cutting sugar cane, a shunter in the railway in Roma St, fruit picking in Victoria and Tasmania, working in a flour mill - leaving one week before the 1974 floods!

Q How did you get into beekeeping?
A I've had bees as a hobby since 1958 after cutting bees out of trees in swamps. Then in 1972 I became commercial by buying bees-until that point I worked the bees travelling to Rockhampton every third week-end, between shifts.

Q How many hives do you run and what country do you work?
A About 350 and I work the Rockhampton district, the coastal ranges such as Jimna, sometimes the Burnett and the coast.

Q What type of truck do you run?
A A two tonne Mitsubishi that has a 5.8 m tray -that way I only shift a single layer of bees.

Q What hobbies or pastimes do you have?
A I had a recreational interest in diving during the 1960's- since then I've been involved in the administrative side of the sport for the past 25 years.  I've been the elected member for the State Council and a judge for this time as well.  On a more humorous note - I've been the champion bomb diver of Centenary Pool with a whopping 13.5 m tall splash!!  Also, I've been the best belly flopper in Brisbane, diving off a 5 m tower - and there is quite a lot of skill needed to do that. I've was excluded from the recent Gold Coast competition because competitors have to be over 114 kg.

Q Great industry achievements?
A Most of my work is still in the process of being dealt with, as I am the current QBA president - issues take a long time to be resolved.

Q QBA Presidency - likes and dislikes?
A I like the feeling I'm in the position to help the beekeeping industry.  I dislike things like the criticism levelled at QBA for not doing enough for it's members-then those very same people take the opportunity of lower truck registration fees that QBA have worked hard to negotiate.

Q What issues are of most concern to you?
A Floral resource.  We have to keep fighting for access and preservation - all the time, to maintain our viability.
Well Duncan is quite a surprise - and no rest for the man at the top, so I'll let him go now so he can make his next meeting.

My loader!                                               by Hamish Lamb
Many of you have already seen the DPI beekeeping utility fitted with the Billett loader.
I thought it would be enlightening to explain how the loader works and give an evaluation of it.

This loader was purchased to aid me in the American foulbrood inspections, as I was beginning to crumble under the constant heavy lifting. The model is a 125R (split boom electric) which is a common size on small trucks and utes. It can lift 125kg-three full supers. It has a reach of 3.9 metres which allows me to work a number of hives before having to shift the vehicle. 

When fully extended care must be taken, as the weight of the boxes can swing the boom with a mighty force, which brings me to the next point -levels. When considering a loader, one is faced with
the leveling options available. My loader has manual turn buckles that can be tricky to master. The upgraded version has leveling lights which help you get the correct level, and for an additional cost you could have electric leveling added.

The advantage I have found with this particular loader is that it folds down, so that it sits not much higher than the ute cabin. This is good - it doesn't limit the use of the vehicle in the city, such as in car parks, etc.

My loader is wired to the main battery (no extra for loader needed), and being a 12 volt system is very steady in the lifting. I've found the 24 volt somewhat jurky when lifting hives.

Probably the most innovative component to this loader is the cradle. It has feet that clip in the side for cleats or clip into the base for lifting from underneath the hive.

The Scissor accessory fitted
As an accessary I had a scissor clamp made to assist me lift two boxes without cleats. This is a marvellous option, as I never know what equipment I am going to face when turning up at a site.

The down side to having the loader fitted to such a small ute, is that an extra leaf is required in the spring, to stop the tray from sagging to one side.

Overall the loader is very well engineered and balanced, probably one of the best on the market, but for $5 650, including fitting - it would want to be!

Scissor accessory in use.

Feet adaptor for lifting with cleats.

Feet adaptor for lifting from underneath hives

American foulbrood statistics and infected area report
by Hamish Lamb
Currently we have a total of 174 owners (148 under quarantine) having a brush with AFB.

Not all owners have been put under quarantine due to a clear inspection after a 1 + reading in their honey.

I suppose the best way of describing the situation generally is to say that we have a real mixture of owners ranging from hobbyists with only a couple of hives, to side line operators, to fully commercial beekeepers.

Each case has been different. Some outbreaks have been severe up to 60% of hives infected whist others two or three in one apiary.

I just can't emphasise enough the importance of putting into place a plan before one is diagnosed with AFB, and improving one's skill in identification {early detection}. This will save a lot of heartache!

AFB infected hives being burnt in a hole in the ground

AFB infected equipment being burnt.
The high risk areas and areas to be treated with caution are as follows:
Ipswich district
Sadliers Crossing, West Ipswich, Leichhardt, Wulkuraka.
South Burnett
Kingaroy, Nanango, Blackbutt.
Brisbane districts
Kallangur, Dakabin, Camp Hill, Wynnum West, Albany Creek, Gailes, Goodna, Cannon Hill, Lota, Upper Mount Gravatt, Sunnybank.
North Coast
Gympie, Palmwoods, Woodford, Wamuran, Burpengary, Glasshouse, Woombye, North Arm, Elimbah, Morayfield.
Other areas
Mount Tamborine, Kilcoy, Biloela.

AFB has been detected in other areas but is not rated a risk at this stage.

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