BEELINE - a Queensland Perspective
Number 5 Autumn 1999
Editors report
Greetings once again beekeepers.

I guess the widespread rain has boosted everyone's hopes for a superb honey flow next season!! Peter's floral report will be able to help in this area. Beeline 5 I feel has valuable information for your business and I thank all of you who have given the DPI positive feedback regarding Beeline. We endeavour to contribute to the industry in a constructive manner.

I need to remind you of your responsibilities to return your registration papers for 1999, together with the required honey sample for AFB testing.

I hope I can catch up with many of you at the QBA conference in June at Gympie.

Bye for now,

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 floral report
by Peter Warhurst
For all those beekeepers who found flowering trees such as Grey ironbark, Coastal bloodwood, Blackbutt, Gumtopped box, all hopes of honey were dashed when there was no crop. Purple top and carpetweed on the Downs similarly did not produce much even though the growth and flowering were among the best I have seen.

Good rain should ensure flowering on the Broad-leaved or Blue-leaved ironbark, Blue gum, Narrow-leaved ironbark, coastal Teatree, Spotted gum, Hill gum, Yellow box and most of our Acacias. Weeds are thriving with better rainfall and good pollen supplies should help maintain colony strength.

Asian bees at Darwin

You may be interested in the developments since the initial discovery of Asian bees in Darwin in June 1998.

I have been involved with reviewing the situation, which included a visit to Darwin for two weeks during February.

The NT beekeeping industry is very small in comparison to the other states having only a few commercial and hobby beekeepers. If varroa, tropilaepas or acarine mites were to be found on exotic bees, this incursion would have huge implications for the Australian beekeeping industry.

To recap on the past facts

A local beekeeper catches a swarm but realises it isn't Apis mellifera. It is confirmed as Apis cerana.
NAQIS and NT Government conduct  a surveillance and media campaign  resulting in Apis mellifera colonies being identified. No further Apis cerana are found.
The area is divided up into the eradication zone (6 km around original detection), restricted area (18 km around original detection), control area (50 km around original detection), and protected area (the rest of NT). Each zone has movement protocols for bees.
All bees found in the eradication zone are sampled for mites and are destroyed.
Surveillance of the areas described above continues, but bee activity in the eradication zone is minimal. This makes the ongoing surveillance tedious

My work in Darwin involved visiting areas to inspect flowering plants for bee visits, boiling up honey to attract bees, searching likely colony habitats and observing bee bird activity.

Extensive areas were surveyed confirming that generally bee activity was very low. We did however manage to locate three feral colonies of honeybees; two of these were in large trees in the botanical gardens, the other one in the wall of a flat.

The procedure for sampling a colony for mites, involves using a small vacuum cleaner to suck up a couple of hundred bees into a container. The laboratory inspects these bees for internal and external mites. The colony is then killed and the entrance sealed with expanding foam.

It is highly probable that the Apis cerana colony found in Darwin was the only colony to reach the mainland.

One can only speculate on how the colony arrived. A possible mode of entry is via a ship.

Indications are that the colony was present for only a very short time prior to discovery, which is fortunate for the sake of the industry.

All staff involved in the Asian bee outbreak have done a thorough and tremendous job.

The NAQIS staff should be congratulated on the handling of the Asian Bee incursion and all the other
responsibilities, which include fruit fly, screwworm fly and wild animal monitoring to name just a few.

Also other people who should be congratulated include AQIS, NT Government, QBA and local beekeepers

Beekeeping personality profile
Charlie Hacker
by Hamish Lamb

I'd like you to meet a friendly fellow who many have seen at bee conferences and field days. Charlie's carefree attitude, infectious laugh and inquiring mind have been the qualities that many of us have appreciated when in his company.

Charlie's beekeeping skills have proved successful in maintaining a viable business in these financially difficult times.

Here is the story of Cooroy-based Charlie.

When and where did you Start your beekeeping career?
I'm a boat builder by trade, working with both timber and fibreglass. During 1972 the boat building industry went through a recession. This is when I started part time beekeeping under the guidance of Granny Rosser. We were in Brisbane at the time and the Rosser family was a well-known beekeeping family, based in Benowa.

Where did you grow up and what were your interests at this time?
I grew up in Brisbane with a short stint in Rockhampton. As an 8-year-old I became interested in sailing. I joined a sailing club on the Brisbane River and sailed at the 18 footer's Club, as a junior.

Where do you work your bees and what flora do you utilise?
I mainly work in the southeast corner, including the Burnett district and Miriamvale areas. I work the Narrow-leaved Ironbark and Spotted Gum in the winter here. I travel to the Yellow Box at Texas and Goondiwindi, and also to the Gum Topped Box around Murgon as well as the Jimna ranges. 

I also did considerable pollination in the Macadamia nut trees on the Maleny range some years ago. This work was in conjunction with a trial that the previous Apiary Officer, John Rhodes was running.
It was interesting when we fed 50 bags of sugar to 400 beehives in order to get them to work the trees. The orchard was a couple of hundred acres with 15-16 year old trees. When I operated out of Maleny 21 years ago the dairy farms had lots of clover, which was wonderful for my bees. This is a thing of the past with fewer dairy farms operating, very few using clover, and drought in the previous years.

What Sort of truck and honey house do you operate with?
I've got a Mitsubishi 415, 101/2 tonne which carries 118 hives. I've got an electric/ hydraulic self-made loader. The honey house consists of a 100 frame radial extractor and a 4m conveyer. My uncapper does 19 frames per minute and needs my air driven deboxer to keep up with it.

I am currently very interested in the changes needed for extracting plants to come up to other industry standards.

How do you preserve your beeboxes?
I started dipping my boxes in paraffin wax, which was Norm Rice's technique. You must paint the box immediately with plastic paint when it comes out of the wax, while it is still hot. Though this process does have merit, the copper napthenate and unleaded petrol dip and paint is all we do now.

What are Some of the highlights of your career so far?
I was the first one in Queensland to travel to the irradiation plant in Sydney when we had an AFB outbreak in 1987. While it seemed more like a disaster than a highlight at the time, getting the gear irradiated was an excellent decision as we were able to sterilise all our spare equipment and use it for the next spring. I am thankful we have this option to remedy our AFB problems.

I consider serving on the Queensland Beekeepers Association Executive 1996-1998 a highlight. I was also QBA Wide Bay Branch President for 2 years. Getting the next crop of honey is always something to look forward to.

Is it true about you having a reputation for the largest hive tool in the industry?
Well I think it is quite amusing that I'm known for having the biggest hive tool. I make my own out of stainless steel. I have to have something decent to handle 300 boxes of honey in one day !

What were your worst moments in beekeeping?
The last time soapy bush flowered well around Pomona, in 1986, I got bogged 3 times in one day! Talk about wet, we were towed out of two bogs by two different tractors and I dug out of the third. I didn't get back to Nambour until 9.00pm! I think we topped an all time production record for us with an average of 19.5kg of honey per hive.

What are your other interests?

My interests in sailing have continued and I have become more committed. The whole family is involved in the Lake Cootharaba Sailing Club. I am an Australian Yacht Federation Sailing Master. I am also an on-water judge for team racing and a grade 2 National Coach under the National Coach Association.

In 1998 I was awarded the Solo trophy for services to sailing.

(Solo is an old racing boat that went to the Antarctic in the early 1960's. The trophy is the sailing equivalent to the beekeeping Goodacre award.)

You have to admit Charlie has his priorities right when it comes to maintaining an ideal lifestyle if the honey goes off or the wind gets up, the bee overalls and veil are quickly changed to a set of togs and he heads for the lake with the boat! Charlie's other credits include raising three children Mia, EIke and Zane, and though they aren't following in beekeeping yet,  Mia does have her truck license!  Gail who is Charlie's partner should also be credited as the unseen partner in the family beekeeping business. Gail also doubles up as a storyteller, turning up all over the place, from outback schools to the Brisbane Convention Centre.

Developments on heat Sterilisation of equipment

by Wendy Ward
At long last we have some good news to report on the heat sterilisation of AFB infected boxes! We have trialed heat treatment on a number of occasions in the past with mixed results.


For the benefit of new beekeepers, here is a brief "re-cap" on the work performed in our efforts to destroy P. larvae susbsp larvae spores by heat.

Trials in the laboratory indicate that 100% P. larvae susbsp larvae could be destroyed by heat. On the basis of this work we performed a commercial experiment in a forestry kiln using 80 bottoms and supers artificially infected with spores. We heated these boxes at 100"C for 6 hours but found that at 10% of the sites spores had survived. Clearly this was not the answer as we must destroy all of the spores. This forced us to go "back to the laboratory" to conduct more experiments.

After more laboratory trials with different temperatures and time we tried a powder coating kiln and heated the artificially infected boxes at 130°C for 4 hours under conditions of dry heat. We trialed the powder coating kiln because these are readily available in most cities and country towns throughout Queensland and if successful, could be easily accessed by beekeepers.

Unfortunately, 29.8% artificially infected sites returned viable spores of P. larvae susbsp larvae after heating in this type of kiln.

Present work

In spite of these disappointing results, work has continued. Mr Winston Lamb commissioned Mr Norm Hinton to build a small heating chamber large enough for 2 boxes only, and designed to accommodate a tray of water on the bottom to generate steam. This tray of water is a very important aspect of the sterilisation process.

We have trialed the small heating chamber on 3 separate occasions. On each occasion the 2 boxes were artificially seeded with a heavy concentration of spores of P. larvae susbsp larvae. The infected boxes were exposed to 130"C for 5 hours. Remember it takes up to 45 minutes to reach the required temperature, thus increasing the time frame to 5 hours and 45 minutes.

The good news is that the chamber has destroyed 100% of the spores on 3 separate occasions. We are delighted with this result, and in the meantime have applied to RIRDC (the research funding body) for further grants to continue with this work. We are hoping that our application was favourably viewed so that this important work can continue.

Gary Everingham, our part-time laboratory technician has played an important role in this work and we are pleased to have his input. In the interim, we all hope for a better honey season next year.

Happy beekeeping.

American foulbrood report

by Patricia Greer
Summer is almost over, and with winter on the way, now is the time for last minute AFB checks. This will ensure hives enter next Spring in good condition, and will minimise the risk of infected hives being robbed out.

Our American Foulbropd program has shown that the incidence of AFB has remained static for the last four months. We would like to congratulate everyone for their positive attitude to our testing program, and we have every reason to believe that the AFB incidence will begin to decline in the coming year.

On April 17 1999, we are launching our new look disease field days, commencing in the Bayside region. We hope to gather as much data as possible from this first field day, so that we can make positive changes for future days. If the response is strong, we hope to hold a second day in the Bayside region in the near future. If you feel that your area could benefit from a disease field day, please let us know.

Another initiative I hope to launch in April is a series of discussion groups to talk about issues of importance to smaller beekeepers. These will be structured to suit each group's individual needs with limited interference from DPI. It is envisioned that these groups will be guided in identifying issues, developing goals and objectives, and working through solutions.

Please feel free to make suggestions to your DPI Apiary Officers, and together we can assist in reducing AFB, and make our hobby or livelihood a more enjoyable exercise.

Quality Assurance
by Peter Warhurst

As we contemplate the measures needed to upgrade our extraction equipment and sheds, remember to wash out your drums before they are filled. One recent example of this was brought to my attention. High quality western honey with a Pfund reading of 35 was downgraded to 90 simply because the drum had not been used for many years and was not washed prior to filling. The financial loss from this was around $60 per drum and who can afford this?

Remember this was the visual effect. What about the chance of increasing the zinc or iron levels on chemical analysis for residues? Be proud of your product and do the right thing or the thing right.

Questions that might cross your mind in the dead of night
by Frazer Truman

New Apiaries Regulations (Subordinate Legalisation 1998 No 136 under the Apiaries Act 1982 were made by the Governor in Council on 14 May 1998. They may help to answer those questions you have!

1. Do I still have notify the Chief Executive (DPI) if I establish, remove or sell an apiary?

This notification only applies now if you intend to establish, remove or sell an apiary north of latitude 15°S in Cook Shire or in Torres Shire. (Sensitive areas for possible incursion of Asian honeybees and exotic mites). All beekeepers must remain registered with DPI.

2. How do I obtain a Class "C" apiary classification (queen bees bred for sale) or Class "D" classification apiary (drone mother hives used for mating of queen bees)?

The owner of such apiaries must apply to the Chief Executive in the approved form to seek Class "C" or "D" classification.

The Chief Executive may also cancel these certificates if the apiary is no longer of the class, or for class "C" certificates, the apiary site or other matters make it undesirable for queen bee breeding.

3. How should I mark my hives, and where should the first mark be placed?

The mark or brand must be on the front of the hive in block letters at last 25mm (1 inch) high. The first owner's mark in the centre of the hive, and subsequent owner's marks in a clockwise sequence starting at the top left hand corner. Check the diagram easy isn't it?

The Act only requires 1 in 50 hives in an apiary to be marked, but marking all hives is a good insurance.

4. When do I need to notify the DPI if I have disease in my hives?

If you see or suspect the following conditions you are obliged to notify an apiary inspector. American foulbrood, Exotic mites, Bee louse.

Any oddball conditions would also certainly be of interest to DPI. Remember samples to help diagnose any suspect disease can be sent to the Animal Research Institute, Yeerongpilly (tests are free of charge).

5. What are the requirements for introduction to Queensland, queen bees and escorts or queen cells from another state?

The queen bees and escorts or queen cells must not be infected with American foulbrood, exotic mites or bee louse, and for the previous 3 months not been within 5km of bees with these diseases. They must also originate from hives free of bee diseases (eg Chalkbrood, European foulbrood etc).

Any honey or pollen used in food stores for the queen bees, escorts or cells must have been irradiated to inactivate any disease.

6. How about introduction from Tasmania

Due to presence of bee louse in Tasmania any introduction into Queensland of queen bees, escorts or queen cells must first undergo inspection and quarantine in New South Wales at the Wallgrove quarantine facility. Introduction of working bees, hives or appliances from Tasmania is virtually impossible due to the presence of bee louse.

There you are - now sleep in peace. you have other concerns or queries regarding the Apiaries Act 1982 and Regulations, please write to, or contact an apiary inspector.

Queensland Beekeepers Association News

The QBA executive has been involved with the RFA (Regional Forest Agreement) process and now announce that the CRA (Comprehensive Regional Assessment) reports are now available.

An overview report is available,  This is an executive summary of each assessment report.

Information in the Assessment report will be used in the development of options for future use of forests.  These should be ready for public comment by early April.

The reports include, among other things, detailed forest maps and are available at all SE-QLD shire libraries.

The internet site is  Reports can be obtained by phoning 1800 240 691

Beekeeper Quizz

Q1  What is the botanical name of Mallee Box?

Q2 What is Nasonov pheromone?

Q3 Bacillus thuringiesis, what is it?

Q4 Name the male part of a flower.

Q5 What is a refractometer?

the answers

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