BEELINE - a Queensland Perspective
Number 6 Summer 1999
Beeline 6, Summer Edition, brings you a variety of ,. articles that we in DPI believe will aid your beekeeping enterprise. I feel the range of issues discussed in this edition is a reflection of the complex world of business in which we operate.

A poignant issue is the standard of food handling facilities to which we need to aspire in our honey houses. Therefore "Capilano Honey Ltd" has launched its Reference Manual, and an article by Bill Winner is included in this issue.

The Asian Bee incursion at Hamilton in September has been a major event for the Apiary section of DPI and AQIS. Wendy Ward's article explains the whole event for your information.

The identification of Californian Bumblebee at Buderim was also an issue we were involved in and we request beekeepers to keep watch for this exotic insect. Peter Warhurst's article on his Apimondia visit will no doubt interest us all as will his regular flora report.

Internally we have a restructure of our Apiary Section. As part of the changes responsibility for beekeeping will move from the Intensive Livestock Industry Development (ILID) program to the DPI Animal and Plant Health Service (APHS), where bee activities will come under the Animal Health Program led by the General Manager, Animal Health, Mr Ron Glanville. Mr Glanville is no stranger to beekeeping issues, having been involved in emergency response outbreaks to chalkbrood and Asian bee. Mr Bryan Cantrell will undertake the role of Bee Policy Officer.

In preliminary meetings between industry and APHS the clear message has been received that, for the time being, it will be "business as usual" for beekeeping under the new management structure. However, apiary activities will be included as part of the overall review of DPI's direction. Further information will be reported in the next issue of "Beeline", including profiles of the key APHS staff who will be involved in beekeeping.

The Beekeeping Industry Consultative Committee (BICC) met in early November 1999. At that meeting Mr John Walthall stood down as Chairman and Mr Don Keith was unanimously endorsed as the new Chairman. This brings the Committee into line with other Industry Development Committees that operate under the auspices of DPI, all of which have industry chairs. Mr Fraser Trueman will remain as Secretary of the Committee.

If you wish to advertise in future Beeline editions please write to me. Enjoy your reading and all the best for the remainder of the season.

Bye for now, Hamish

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

Rain in the south east inland will give the trees a chance to grow new leaves while on the coast they are waterlogged. The dry continues in the north so prospects are variable. On the Darling Downs, carpet weed and other weeds could give some honey and a good build when it finally warms up. Narrow-leaved ironbark is very well budded in some areas so check it out. The Yellow box west of Karara looks almost defoliated so you would need to look at other areas. Even if it looks good, it needs warm to hot nights to yield.

Silver-leaved ironbark east of the range is very well covered with new growth but I do not know about buds. Down in the Texas area it is only now growing so it may be late or yet another non-event.
Brush box in the higher areas needs a visit to see if your patch has budded. It's had a long holiday. Bloodwoods on the coast are heavily in new leaf growth so they may bud up for summer. Gumtopped or Brown box have been watered so watch for their new growth and hope there are flower buds as well. The best clover seems to be around south east Queensland so check the high granite country for the later flowering crop.

Carpet weed along the Condamine River system is flowering well but again it needs warm nights to yield nectar. Do not forget the river Coolabah and River red gum on our western streams but remember where the flood levels are in relation to your site

Incursion of the Asian honeybee
by Wendy Ward
As you may already know, an incursion of the Asian honeybee Apis cerana was recently detected in Brisbane. The purpose of this article is to inform you of the strategies adopted by Department of Primary Industries (DPI) and Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS) staff to protect the Honeybee Industry from the potential threat posed by this incursion.

On 16 September 1999 wharf personnel at Hamilton, Brisbane noticed some "wasps" flying near the bow of the of the vessel "Cape Jervis" moored in the Brisbane River at Hamilton Wharves. AQIS personnel destroyed a few (5) of these insects with insecticide and the dead specimens were collected. A closer inspection of the vessel revealed a small cluster of approximately 50-100 "wasps" situated under the jemini hook of the ship. While arranging for professional pest exterminators to remove the insects, the swarm disappeared, presumably to the mainland. Subsequent examination of the insects which were originally destroyed revealed them to be the Asian honeybee A. cerana. A. cerana bees can carry exotic honeybee mites not known to occur in Australia. These mites Varroa, Tropilaelapsand the tracheal mite Ascarpis woodi pose a potential threat to the honeybee industry as they have the capacity to devastate our managed hives of the European honeybee Apis mellifera and also our native bee colonies. Prior to berthing in Brisbane, the "Cape Jervis" had visited New Guinea and it is believed the A. cerana bees swarmed onto the vessel in that country. No mites were detected on the bees captured on the ship.

The DPI response to this incursion was to implement the AusVet Plan Exotic Pest Control procedures. A Local Disease Control Centre was established at Hamilton and a 2 km quarantine zone around the area in which the bees were originally detected was declared. This quarantine zone encompasses areas on both sides of the Brisbane River and involves the suburbs of Ascot, Hamilton, Eagle Farm, Bulimba, Balmoral, Colmslie, Whinstanes and Hendra. Bees, bee products (excluding honey) and bee equipment are prohibited from leaving this quarantine zone.

A large contingent of personnel consisting of staff from DPI, AQIS and Industry representatives was assembled to try to sweep net or trap any A. cerana bees which had escaped from the original swarm. Bait stations, traps containing honeybee pheromones and Dakpots were established in various sites in the Quarantine zone. Bees continue to be collected from all of these stations on a daily basis and'are examined microscopically to determine the bee species. Media presentations and letter box drops to business premises and private residences in the quarantine zone provided information to the general public. Our requests to report to DPI any sightings of swarms received a positive response and all reports of swarms in the Quarantine zone were investigated. Samples of bees from all swarms were examined for the presence of A. cerana. All reports of feral colonies of bees in the Quarantine Zone are also investigated, and samples of bees are collected and examined for species identification.

At the time of writing, over 6,000 bees from approximately 1,300 sites in the quarantine zone have been examined. No A. cerana bees have been identified.

It is proposed to continue this monitoring until 16 December 1999. After that date, if no A. cerana have been detected, the quarantine conditions will be removed.

A national project to monitor for the presence of exotic mites around the coastline of Australia is in progress. In Queensland, sentinel hives are being established at Weipa, Cairns, Townsville, Gladstone and Brisbane, and examination of hive debris for the presence of mites will take place every 3 months. Monitoring in Queensland will begin in the first week of December 1999.

We take this opportunity to thank Industry personnel who gave off their time and expertise during this exercise. We would also like to express our thanks to the general public who responded to our requests to report any sightings of bees and swarms for subsequent identification.
We trust this information is of interest to you, and that you now have a better understanding of the work that has been carried out in relation in this incursion of A. cerana
If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact us at any time.
Merry Christmas and Happy honey production for 2000

Some features of A.cerana:

  • Slightly smaller bee than A. mellifera 
  • Abdominal bands more prominent 
  • Median vein of rear wing is forked (microscopic examination)
  • Occurs in small colonies
  • Forms nests in sheltered places eg pipes, under eaves, stacked timber

American foulbrood report
by  Patrica Greer
In September we held a very successful and enjoyable disease field day at Mutdapilly Research Station for owners in the Eastern suburbs, Ipswich and Lockyer Valley. This was very well attended, and a sausage sizzle supplied by John Swift of Gatton College was much appreciated. Unfortunately, due to the untimely arrival of Apis cerana onto our shores, our Bayside day had to be cancelled. We will be holding several field days in and around Brisbane in the coming year.

American foulbrood (AFB) is making a move with summer fast approaching.

The current statistics shows a prevalence of 8.8% of owners currently under quarantine in Queensland. This is up slightly from this time last year. 

A disturbing trend at this time of year is the number of unregistered owners still out in the community. If you know someone who may be unregistered, please send us a letter or telephone us. You can remain anonymous. Remember, protecting your mate may mean that someone's livelihood could be adversely affected

Beekeeping personality profile    Winston Lamb

by Hamish Lamb
It is with great pleasure that I profile Winston Lamb the current QBA President and commercial apiarist. It is due to his encouragement that I owe my own career and interest in beekeeping as he is my father.

Can you outline your working career and involvement with bees?
I've worked in the bank all of my professional career but always had a keen interest in bees. I started keeping bees about 25 years ago, and our family apiary grew over time to about 100 hives. I left the bank in 1993 and had to increase my apiary so I could operate in a more commercial sense.

How do you See paid pollination growth in the future?
I recognise it will take quite a few years for paid pollination to be an important aspect in rural industry, but it is occurring slowly. I believe it is important for beekeepers to recognise their expertise and the value of their equipment so that they can benefit from financial reimbursements when pollinating crops. At present much pollination occurs incidentally by an apiary located on or near a crop for honey or pollen use.

What does QBA President mean to you?
Being QBA President brings with it a lot of work but it is not without its rewards. I've sacrificed much of my business and private time but want to put back into the industry what it has given me.

I enjoy working in the political arena and on important issues such as preserving beekeeping resources. I take every opportunity to highlight to government the value of beekeeping, especially paid and unpaid pollination services. However, for maximum impact we need industry participants to be united by being members of QBA.

A strong membership reflects, and supports, the importance of our industry to government officials and the community in general.

What does your outfit consist of?
I have a Mitsubishi Canter 4WD truck fitted with a billet loader. I chose this type of truck so I can gain access to pollination sites in any conditions.

I've had to comprise the honey operation by the truck tray size but I find it a suitable truck for my needs.

I operate from our 50 acres at Bellthorpe (between Woodford and Maleny).

I have my shed and central extraction plant located here at Bellthorpe which provides some sanity amongst the heavily timbered terrain. Predominant species range from flooded gum, brush box to rainforest species.

This is also where I've diversified my enterprises by growing cut flowers. We grow Stenanthenum which are harvested around August/ September of each year.

What areas can you identify as improvement to our industry?
Due to my banking background, I would like to see beekeepers become more informed in management and business skills as well as they are in husbandry skills. So much beekeeping business relies not only on being able to keep bees but having a canny business approach.

As I think about my own beekeeping career, while browsing our family beekeeping snapshots, it is with fond memories I recall Dad's beekeeping activities, spending the summer school holidays extracting the family hives and shifting them to Jimna.

Much praise should be given to Winston for his foresight in Industry matters.
Winston is also a founding member of Queensland Beekeepers' Pollination
Association (which has been in recess for a number of years) and is active on the
BICC This quiet achiever is a true visionary.

Moving On
by Fraser Trueman
In 1994 regionalisation within the Department resulted in my involvement with the honeybee industry, and now a further restructuring will almost finish this association. I shall be a member of the Agency for Food and Fibre Sciences, while responsibility for honeybee issues and the Apiary section will pass to the Animal and Plant Health Service in early December.

It has been a stimulating five years learning about a fascinating industry and getting to know some of the characters involved. I have appreciated your help and friendship, and shall fondly remember the QBA annual conferences with special mention of the Cunnamulla bus trip.

In looking back there have been some success for industry and some ongoing problems. It would be great to report that AFB is on the decline, but with procedures now available and some dedication from every beekeeper, I still believe our goals are possible. I am pleased to continue my involvement with the Bee Industry Consultative Committee, so I shall be keeping in touch.

Once again, thanks for your support, and may the seasons be good with the blossoms dripping with nectar.

Bumble bee, a new species in Auotralia

 by James Planck,
Animal and Plant Health Service, 
What is it?
Bombus vosnesenskii is a species of bumble bee which has been detected in Australia for the first time in Buderim, south east Queensland. This is a different species to the exotic bumblebee, Bombus terrestris, which has established in Tasmania and New Zealand. Quarantine authorities are concerned about this unwanted intruder and any impact it may have on native flora and fauna.

Have you Seen it?
The distribution of this bee in Queensland is unknown at this stage. It is unlikely to have an adverse impact on agriculture, however it could have some environmental effects such as outcompeting native bee species for pollen and nectar sources, which could affect pollination of pollen plants. DPI would like to hear from you if you think that you may have seen this bee. Remember that it can sting humans, so take care.

B. vosnesenskii is a big (approx 2cm long), stout, fuzzy, yellow and black insect. It can be confused with a native Carpenter bee species, Xylocopa aruana, which by comparison is solitary rather than social, has a black face and the female has a hairy hind leg whereas bumble bees have a naked, flattened hind leg. Honeybees are smaller and finer and lack fuzziness or furriness. Bumblebee nests are small compared to those of honeybees containing only a few hundred individuals and are used for only one season before being abandoned. They usually nest in the ground in deserted mouse or bird nest, but can also be found in wall cavities.

Further information
If you think that you have seen this bee, contact the DPI Call Centre on 13 25 23 (free call), or your nearest DPI office for advice on what do next.


Vancouver 12 - 18 September 1999
by  Peter Warhurst

The Vancouver Trade and Convention Centre located on Vancouver Harbour was the venue for this event. With up to three cruise ships departing each day for Alaska, a holiday atmosphere was always close by.

Attendance at Apimonda 99 was very close to 3,000 people from all sections of the globe. Its organisers from the University, Canadian Department of Agriculture and beekeepers should be congratulated on the excellent job they did. Timing at all sessions was strictly controlled and this permitted equal opportunity for the presenters to get their messages across.

Great entertainment was proved both in the opening and closing ceremonies.

Trade displays were open during the whole of the congress. Included were beekeeping equipment, woodware, extracting plants, frames, boxes, smokers, excluders, protective clothing, drugs, honey, propolis, pollen, wax, royal jelly, education, marketing and pollination. The Australian Billet Easyloader generated a lot of interest as it was the only truck-mounted loader on display.

Presentations were so numerous that three were running at any one time to complete the program. Aspects covered included economics, pollination, pests, diseases, international trade, biology, apitherapy, mead making, medi-honey, bee breeding and other bees. The next "Beeline" will contain one selected paper presented at Apimonda 99.

Of major importance was the problem of resistance to control measures for Varroa mites and American foulbrood. The lack of a control agent for the small Black African hive beetle in Florida and adjoining states is causing serious losses to those beekeepers.

I cannot emphasise enough the need for beekeepers to use only the recommended control at the correct dose level. Strict observance of quarantine regulations is a must if our industry is to survive into the next millennium.

Of major importance was the evidence of developing resistance to Varroa mites to chemical miticides, and the American foulbrood bacteria to Oxytetracycline. The North American bee industry is highly dependant on these chemicals to control disease. Development of hygienic lines of bees to suppress the impact of mites and AFB are important research priorities, and some success is apparent.

Another threat to the North American industry is the rapid spread of the small Black Hive Beetle recently introduced to Florida from South Africa. The beetle is spreading to adjoining states causing serious losses to beekeepers.

Issues for the Queensland industry include:

  • Introduce or develop hygienic bee genes to support AFB control.
  • Keep out parasitic mites at all costs.
  • Raise industry awareness to the Black Hive Beetle menace.
  • Meet opportunity to market good quality quiet Queen Bees to Canada

Some statistical facts
by Diane Werner

We thought you may by interested to learn something of the size of your Industry in Queensland eg numbers of registered beekeepers, numbers of commercial operations (ie 400 + hives) etc. The following figures were the current ones for end of November 1999.

Cancellations during 1999 have been 214 beekeepers, but 200 new apiarists have come into the Industry.

42 beekeepers have retained current registration status but have no hives at all at present!

A detailed breakdown of figures from our computer database is shown in the table.

We are still awaiting registration payments and honey samples for AFB disease diagnoses from a small number of beekeepers. Remember, honey sampling is a requirement to complete your registration details and is an integral part of the AFB disease control program. This non-compliance by a small sector of your Industry is unfair to those who pay promptly and forward their honey samples to the ARI laboratory when requested. So, if you have not met your obligations to date, please comply.

The 1999 beekeeping financial year ends 31 March 2000. As usual, renewals to all beekeepers will be posted in April 2000. We are unsure, at this stage, if statutory charges such as annual beekeeping
registration fees will attract a GST. No doubt we will all be informed in due course.

Happy beekeeping.

Beekeepers  per group
% Beekeepers
No. of Hives
% of hives
Subtotal 1-39
Subtotal 40-299
Subtotal 300-1000+

Reference Manual
for honey extraction facilities and Food Safety Program
published by Capilano Honey Limited 
principal Authors:
Ray White, Senior Researcher CSIRO
Bill Winner, beekeeper Services Manager, Capilano Honey Limited

With the ever growing attention being focused on food safety and food hygiene and increasing government pressure for change, Capilano Honey Limited in conjunction with Food Science Australia (CSIRO) have designed a reference manual to inform beekeepers of their responsibilities in meeting quality standards as demanded by consumers, governments and wholesalers.

The reference manual is unique in that it concentrates on honey extracting facilities and the processing of honey through them with careful attention to good manufacturing practice and food handling legislation as it applies to honey processing. The relevant legislation quoted is usually sourced from the Australia New Zealand Food Authority (ANZFA) with further referencing to the Australian Quarantine Inspection Service Service (AQIS) and the US Food Code 1999.

Whether you are planning to refurbish a premises or  designing a new honey extracting  facility you will
 find the reference  manual will assist you to evaluate your existing operation, set priorities  and plan staged  implementation of your plans that will meet regulatory requirements and your budget. References and illustrations found in the manual are designed to be flexible and take into consideration the difficulties some beekeepers may face in in upgrading their premises.

The layout is time saving and user friendly, simply use the contents page as a guide or the index to locate the subject you are wanting information on e.g. floor coatings, walls, lighting etc. The clearly defined tabs for each section also assist locating the section you wish to reference. The pictorial Foreword will provide illustrations that enable beekeepers to observe actual designs that are being used by your fellow beekeepers.

Another feature of the manual is the obvious use of beekeepers observations and experiences which help bring subjects to life and increase the value of the manual as a publication produced directly for industry use.

The reference manual was heavily reviewed by beekeepers, CSIRO staff, Capilano Honey Limited staff, AQIS, ANZFA, state and local government health officers and has been widely acclaimed as one of the best manuals of it's type and all believed it would make a valuable contribution to the food safety and food hygiene standard of the Australian honey industry.

Food Safety Program: There are section on HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) which in essence is a preventative food safety assurance system, defining what is involved. A Self Audit Section allows the beekeeper to assess his operation to determine if it complies with food standards. Master sheets are provided to cover important areas that Environmental Health Officers always look for like start of day check lists, end of day check lists, rodent control sheets and drum record forms, these forms may be copied and kept up to date. All pages are plastic coated to enable them to be wiped off, should honey get onto a page and as such are not designed to be written on.

Beekeeper QUIZZ

Q1 How much honey is produced in Queensland?
Q2 What is the botanical name of Silver-leaved ironbark?
Q3. What is the crude protein content of  the pollen of Silver-leaved ironbark?
Q4. What is the melting point of beeswax?
Q5. Can you list the international colour code for beekeeping?


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