BEELINE - a Queensland Perspective
Number 7 Winter 2000

Editors report:

The apiary industry has encountered some important issues since our last edition of Beeline. Chiefly these have been another Asian honeybee incursion at Fisherman Island in December 1999, and a Giant honeybee incursion in March 2000. Fortunately AQIS, DPI and industry were able to effectively rise to the challenge of the exotic bee incursions.

The major factor in controlling these incursions has really been early detection. The port side workers have been the prominent personnel alerting AQIS and are to be congratulated for their astute reaction. Unfortunately New Zealand has become infected with Varroa mite and this infection has mirrored previous overseas detections with Varroa, i.e. that it had become established quite some time before it was found, possibly years. It beehive us all to be vigilant not only at port areas but in our own apiaries. DPI will embark on a further monitoring program in light of this.

A Stone to keep the lid on, or to mark it for a box? Beekeeping in good times

Another important issue is the continuing occurrence of neighbourhood complaints about bees. Many government departments, agencies and the general public have a perception that the DPI is the authority responsible for all aspects of beekeeping. Difficulties have been exacerbated in the past by a lack of a clear regulatory policy on the handling of these complaints. Animal and Plant Health Service (APHIS) is reviewing its policy and procedures for dealing with such complaints. The Apiaries Act does NOT have any legislative intent or authority to regulate the keeping of bees from a public nuisance or public health perspective. As a consequence, a Regulatory Policy is being coordinated by Legislative Support Unit, APHS to define the policy and procedures to be adopted when dealing with future complaints about beekeeping. The availability of technical advice will continue in the form of provision of "The Code of Practice for Urban Beekeeping" DPI Apiary Section endeavours to provide you with helpful information that will assist both small operators and commercial operators - this edition being no exception. As editor, I encourage feedback from you so that we continue to provide relevant information.

Best in beekeeping, Hamish Lamb.

Beeline is compiled by Hamish Lamb, DPI, Nambour.
© The State of Queensland, Department of Primary Industries 2000.
Information contained in this publication is provided as general BPI 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, 22 Julia St Highgate Hill Q 4101. Phone Fax: (07) 3844 1246.

The floral report by Peter Warhurst

After the rainfall of last summer, trees which seem to have budded well and may flower soon include blue gum (E. tereticornis) and grey ironbark (E. drepanohylla). On the southern downs, broadleaf and bluetop ironbark are well budded in some areas, however the severe drought and cold may not have been kind to those trees.

On the coast where it seems to rain all the time, check out the white clover and pea-bush but make sure you don't get bogged. Wild flowers in the wallum country should start flowering in late winter but sites in this type of vegetation are not easy to access. In the far west, the Yapunyah (E. ochrophloia) and wild flowers have had a good start and prospects are looking good there. Check out the narrow-leaved ironbark (E. crebra) in central Queensland while the grey box (E. brownii) in north Queensland is well budded. Poplar gum (E. alba) in north Queensland is looking good for a flowering in September

Introducing Ross Newman

The"new boy on the bloc"' in DPI's honey been section is Ross Newman, a veterinarian based in Roma with DPI's Animal and Plant Health Service.

He has been appointed as State Project Coordinator for all DPI Apiary activities, and is looking forward to developing a close association with and a working knowledge of the bee industry.

Ross has a wide range of experience in other industries, having been in private veterinary practice, the meat processing industry and presently in animal health activities primarily with the sheep and cattle industries.

Currently basest in Roma, Ross has a number of other regional, state and national responsibilities that he will continue to fulfil, as well as coordinating the honey bee projects across the state. He plans to move to Warwick later this year.

"The honey bee staff are only small in number and located in the south east part of the State, bait I hope to coordinate the activities to provide the best possible service delivery to all sections of the industry State-wide", he said.

Ross said that priorities for the next twelve months include:

  • a review of AFB management strategies
  • increasing compliance with the compulsory beekeeper registration system
  • a review of the Apiaries Act.

"Given the recent serious impact of varroa mites on the NZ industry, the need for an accurate register of all beekeepers and their sites is all the more important", he said.

Ross will be pursuing complete adherence to the registration requirements by all beekeepers.

Ross can be contacted at the DPI Roma and looks forward to establishing links with all sections of the honeybee industry.

Bee Registration a Must

An accurate register of all beekeepers and apiary sites is essential for the effective detection and control of diseases, especially the exotic diseases. This became very apparent in the initial stages of the varroa mite problem in New Zealand recently.

DPI Apiary State Coordinator, Ross Newman, has announced a firming of policy on registration to ensure all beekeepers fulfil their responsibilities under the Apiaries Act 1982.

Registration involves declaration of a beekeeper's apiary sites and payment of the prescribed fee, currently $10. Without these two aspects, registration is invalid.

All beekeepers must be registered with the DPI, irrespective of the number of hives they have. Registrations must renewed by 31 March each year.

Failure to register is an offence under the Apiaries Act and is subject to a penalty of up to $750. Apiary staff will be paying increased attention to the registration system to ensure all beekeepers are recorded on the register.

So to help safeguard the industry and to avoid prosecution, all beekeepers must erasure they are currently registered. Further details can be obtained from local apiary officers or from Ross Newman.

The honeybee industry and the DPI

Ross Newman - Apiary Projects Coordinator

As Hamish Lamb pointed out in the last Beeline, in late '99 the responsibility for apiary issues in the DPI has been transferred to the DPI's Animal and Plant Health Service (APHS).

APHS is primarily responsible for surveillance and control of exotic pests and disease, and for assisting Queensland's animal and plant industries to achieve the highest possible standards of product quality and wholesomeness, and hence enhanced market access.

For the honeybee industry, this means APHS staff will assist industry stakeholders in developing and sustaining an efficient and profitable bee keeping industry by:

  • maximising productions and efficient use of natural resources
  • minimising the effects and risks of endemic and exotic diseases
  • improving market access and product wholesomeness.

APHS staff who will be working with industry are: Patricia Greer, Hamish Lamb, Peter Warhurst, Wendy Ward, Diane Werner, Bryan Cantrell, Ross Newman, Sandy McKenzie.

The priorities for the next 12 months will be surveillance and response (e.g. for Asian bee), revision of AFB control strategies, review of the Apiaries Act, and enforcement of provisions of the beekeepers registration system.

As State Project Coordinator, Ross Newman would welcome contact from anyone involved in the honeybee industry on how APHS can best work with industry to achieve the goals outlined above.

Frequent and ongoing Port surveillance

by Hamish Lamb

There have been three exotic bee incursions in the port area of Brisbane in the last year:

  • Asian bee, Hamilton, September 99
  • Asian bee, Fisherman Is, December 99
  • Giant Honeybee, Fisherman Is, March 2000.

Given these events we are extremely fortunate to remain free from mite infections in our honeybees - reflecting on our neighbours' (NZ) situation. These incidences have refined the skills for all those concerned in the detection and monitoring roles.

As a result of the ongoing monitoring after the Asian bee detection at Fisherman Is the Apiary Section discovered a feral colony within the quarantine zone that could have mixed with the infected Asian bees while foraging. It was important to inspect this colony internally for mites to our relief the results were negative.

Other managed hives in and around the quarantine zone are receiving ongoing mite surveillance. Periodically, a pest strip and sticky paper are inserted into the hive. The paper, which collects debris, is examined for the presence of exotic mites.

Requeening your hives

by Patricia Greer

As an Apiary Inspector I see a vast array of beekeeping operations, from enthusiastic hobbyists to professional apiarists obtaining a living from bees. One subject beekeepers are consistently curious about is queen bee replacement

. There are three questions which arise from this subject:

  1. Why do queens need replacing?
  2. Who is the best person from whom to purchase a queen?
  3. How is a queen bee successfully introduced into a colony?

In managed hives, queen bees are replaced to ensure continued productivity from the colony, to enhance disease resistance and/or to regulate temperament. Bees will naturally replace an older queen bee with a daughter queen either through swarming, or through supersedure. The problems associated with a self raised queen arise from an inability to control the genetic background of the queen. Successive generations of self raised queen bees may result in a progressively more aggressive colony which is difficult to manipulate; has limited resistance to diseases such as Chalkbrood and European foulbrood, and a colony which produces less honey and/or is less able to be an effective pollinator.

Queen bees should only be purchased from reputable, commercial queen bee breeders. Queens should never be purchased from part-time 'backyard' breeders. Commercial breeders will provide valuable information on how to introduce the queen into the hive, will be able to provide evidence that disease free queen candy was used in the queen cage and will be able to provide the genetic background of the queen. Many reputable breeders advertise in the Australasian Beekeeper magazine and various other bee publications. The DPI Information Note available from apiary staff has a list of queen bee breeders from whom quality queens may be purchased. Queens may be purchased as mated queens ready to start laying immediately upon introduction, or as queen cells. Queen cells are pupating queen bees which should emerge in about 2 days. Prices vary from person to person, but a mated queen retails for $10-$12, and cells are about $2.

Queens bees or cells are normally introduced into a hive in Spring, Summer or Autumn. Greater acceptance is achieved if the colony has access to a nectar and pollen flow at the time of introduction. The old queen is found and killed the day before the new queen is to be introduced. A queen cell should be transported in a small styrofoam esky filled with sawdust shavings to minimise any vibration, and temperature extremes. It is essential to introduce the queen cell as soon as you can. The cell should be placed between two frames of sealed brood, and held in place by gently squeezing the frames so the top bars hold the plastic cell cup. The cell should never be squashed or damaged as this may kill the young queen. Do not disturb the hive for at least 3 weeks after introduction of a cell. Mated queens are sold in small wooden cages called mailing cages. One end of the cage has a queen candy plug, which acts as a time delay and enables the colony to gradually become accustomed to the odour of the new queen. The worker bees chew out the candy, to eventually release the queen. Queens are usually accompanied by a few workers called escorts in the cage, and they help to feed the queen while she is caged. Queens may be safely mailed to their destination, although arrangements should be made to collect the package from the post office. Queens shouldn't be left in hot mail boxes or vehicles. They should also be kept away from ants and pesticides. Place the cage into the centre of the brood nest wedged between two frames. The gauze may face up or down, but ensure honey doesn't leak over the cage, thereby drowning the queen. Do not disturb hives for at least a week after introduction of a mated queen, and even then the inspection should be very quick, only searching for signs of egglaying. Do not try to find new queens at this stage, as the bees may still reject and kill her if too much disturbance occurs.

Once a hive is successfully requeened, a noticeable difference in temperament, production and/or disease resistance should be apparent within 4-8 weeks.

Introducing Sandy Mackenzie

Also new to DPI's honeybee section is Sandy Mackenzie, a veterinary officer with the Animal and Plant Health Service based in Ipswich. He has been appointed as supervisor for two of the Apiary officers Hamish Lamb and Patricia Greer.

"My experience with bees was very limited until helping with the Asian bee incursion at Hamilton and being the response coordinator for the second incursion at Fisherman's Island this year", Mr Mackenzie said.

Sandy can be contacted at the Ipswich DPI and looks forward to involvement with the honeybee industry.

Beekeeping personality profile

Clive Covey

by Hamish Lamb

To call Clive just a beekeeper world be a gross understatement.

This active 82 year old could hold nn audience captive for Hours on his full and varied life. Always resourceful in tasks ahead never let the deep ambition of his love of his beekeeping fade. Join me on a journey of a fascinating Queensland beekeeper.

Tell me a little about your years of growing up and how you Started in bees?

The family moved from Woodford to Tinbeerwah when I was young and grew small crops and sugar cane. This was during the depression.

On one of my trips in the district I saw a swarm land on a lantana bush so I cycled off to a beekeeper in Cooroy called Bill Reid. He came and took the swarm away - so began my fascination with bees.

It was not until I was 12 that I read about honeycomb being a cure for acute hayfever from which I suffered terribly. I knew where some feral hives were which I then went and cut out of the trees. To make the boxes I rigged up a pit saw to cut a beech stump up. It took me one hour to cut a length 6 feet long. I salvaged this stump from some early clearing and floated it down the Six-mile Creek at Tinbeerwah. I made all my frames by hand from scraps from a case mill. I modelled the boxes on the type my mentor at the time Bill Reid had.

The bees I had were quite wild, let me tell you, until I brought a breeder from Allsopp Bros. in Victoria.

My old extracting shed was built from serpentine bark and it had a two frame Cowan extractor. It was bee proof, as it was here that I escaped the wild bees on more than one occasion!

I joined the Queensland Beekeepers Association and attended meetings at the People's Palace in Brisbane with H. L. Jones and Bill Moody.

What about other work in your life?

I did all sorts of jobs while the bees were quiet. I started work with a road building contractor for £2/17/6 (under $3) for nine hours a day, including half of Saturday. I was determined to keep beekeeping - in fact that is why I left the farm. As the years went on I did more and more road building contracting until the council employed me full time.

Clive at home in his apiary at Nambour

I purchased my first truck, an Overland six-cylinder 1926 model, for £30. This then gave me a vehicle to operate my bees. In the beginning I worked the tea tree on the coast in a few locations and did very well out of it -- sometimes averaging 5 tins per hive!. Later I spread further to the Jimna Range for grey ironbark, brush box, then the South Burnett for narrowleaf.

In 1938 I wanted a bigger truck and chose a duel purpose unit, a 1936, three ton Ford fitted with a tipper. This gave me multipurpose use for bees and roadbuilding.

In 1942 I was called up into the Army for 2 years in Brisbane. I eventually ended up supplying the force with beeswax for coating the ammunition.

During the 1960's I moved my family now including 7 children, to Nambour for education and work prospects. I supplied honey privately by selling it in bulk, in used butter boxes, in candied form. It was then cut into blocks and sold as butter honey by a store in Gympie. I also sold to Golden Nectar packers in Brisbane, then later to the Honey Corporation.

I also ventured out into contract sand carrying and purchased six Ford FWD 1942 blitzs. This venture was on Double Is Point for rutile. Then I also did tree snigging and timber hauling with the blitzs.

Tell me about your queen bee breeding work?

I've always strived to supply pure Caucasian bees. This endeavour led me and my colleague Dave Mounford to travel out to the far west for pure matings. I kept in close contact with Bill Williamson, of Kangaroo Point in Brisbane, who had imported, at various times, pure Caucasian bees from Russia. I've kept clear of AI because I believe you can't guarantee that the drones you choose to donate the sperm are good enough -as good as the naturally flying ones would be. I've got an AI kit but found other opportunities arose, such as, the development and use of Keswick Island. This was originally an idea of Roger Goebel of DPI - to utilise islands for isolated matings.

Keswick Island was one of the islands he surveyed. Bees were also needed on this I island to do macadamia pollination. I spent a lot of time assessing the island for suitability.

Getting to Mackay with cells - then catching a light aircraft across to the island, is always a logistical effort. I've been extremely careful to keep disease out of the islands' 60 hives, and when Chalkbrood entered Queensland I took nothing onto the island. Now all the stock is bred from the existing stock. Keswick Island has been of major importance to my breeding and business success.

Transporting bees on Keswick Island.

What would you consider are come of the highlights in your career?

In the early 1980's I went to the USA and Canada for a study tour. This was extremely enjoyable and interesting.

I attended the first Queensland Agricultural College A.1 course held by Dr Woyke. Meeting and talking with Dr Woyke was very beneficial. I was able to maintain the Russian line of Caucasian bees imported into Australia in the mid 80's. The main progeny that was released was not generally favoured but I was able to cross them with my progeny on Keswick Is. thus improving the Caucasian stock available in Australia.

What about retiring, any plans Clive?

Ha! I've been retired for years but can't help myself from getting involved in all the interesting projects.

I think Clive never distinguishes between work and interesting projects. He just keeps going! Clive's two acre Nambour property just oozes history, ranging from the Ford Rancher Wagons, truck bodies, saws, windmills and other bits and pieces.

Settlement on Kerwick Island - caretakers residence

Part of Clive Coveys apiary on Kerwick Island in North Queensland

Some "Housekeeping" requirements for AFB

by Wendy Ward

At the risk of hearing your moans and groans about honey testing and paperwork, etc. I do need to remind you about the laboratory requirements for AFB testing.

As it is renewal of registration time, some of you would now have received reminders for submission of bulk honey samples and we have recently received a number of phone calls about this matter.

The honey testing regimen for those who are free of AFB is as follows:

<50 hives 1 test every 2 years
51 - 100 hives 1 test per year
101 - 200 hives 2 tests per year
>200 hives 3 tests per year

The honey testing for those diagnosed with AFB is based on monitoring yards on a regular basis and we would expect that numbers of tests from these apiarists would be greater than indicated above. Culture tests for those with AFB infections are performed free of charge until apiaries are deemed to be clear.

Commercial apiarists need to remember that we do not necessarily receive your quota of honey tests from the packer.

On completion of culturing, a "Pathology Report" is generated and forwarded to the beekeeper. So, if you are not receiving blue "Pathology Reports" in the mail on a regular basis, then your honey has not been received at the laboratory. You must then personally forward the sample, or make a special request to your packer to send the honey.

Please remember that the laboratory has now received National Testing Authority Registration (NATA), and we must keep this standard.

This means that we need to pay some attention to paperwork. A "Honey Sample Advice Sheet" must accompany all samples submitted to the laboratory. This form must be identical to the one outlined in the centre of this issue of Beeline. So, if you have any of the older forms in your possession, please consign them to the bin, as we must use the correct version! We can forward them to you if you phone us with a request.

In conclusion, a message for those involved in selling nucleus colonies, processing wax etc. Please do not sell any AFB infected colonies to new or existing beekeepers. Selling infected equipment disseminates disease and makes our job of trying to control AFB so much more difficult. Also, if you are melting wax, please ensure this is performed in a bee proof shed so that no robbing can occur. If we all do our little bit then perhaps we can stem the flow of AFB.

Hope next season is a good one!

Beekeeper QUIZZ

Q1. What is a proboscis?
Q2. What is the common name of Eucalyptus orgadophila?
Q3. What is the difference between a bee and a wasp?
Q4. When judging honey what category holds the most points, colour, flavor, density, aroma,        clearness and brightness, finish?

Click here for the answers

What chemical is that?

Understanding insecticide groups help to dispel the mysteries of the dynamic world of agricultural chemicals. If you'r like most people when first confronted with the endless array of available chemicals, it's hard to keep your head from spinning and reasoning out a problem concerning bees and sprays becomes daunting.

Information contained in the following is a summary extracted with permission from Phil Anning (previously DPIQ Horticultural Advisor, currently Regional Director, Primary Industries, NT). This will assist you to understand some aspects of the chemicals that you may encounter with your bees.

The complete article is printed in HBRDC Pollination Workshop Proceedings April 1992.

Pesticide information

Dependence on chemicals for all pest control is a mistake and complete reliance on chemicals for control often fails in the long term. Other methods are available and should be used in long term control programs. Systems of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) offer the best basis for successful crop production, utilising; chemical, biological, and cultural control methods, along with plant resistance methods, all of which are integrated.

Pesticides are classified in relation to four broad roles: insecticides, miticides, fungicides and herbicides.

Pesticide hazards for bees

Insecticides affect bees but other groups can poison bees e.g., the fungicide pyrazophos Afugan®.

Beekeepers must also be aware that pesticides are classified into four classes in terms of their toxicity to bees.

Classes used in terms of risk to bees are:

1. Cannot be applied safely to flowering crops.
2. Can be applied in late evening after foraging.
3. Can be applied whenever bees are not foraging.
4. Can be applied safely at any time.

Insecticide groups

There are 4 main groups of insecticides:

  1. Pyrethroids
  2. Organochlorines
  3. Carbamates
  4. Organophosphates.


These chemicals are synthetic copies of the naturally occurring plant pyrethrin. They have low toxicity to mammals but pythethroids in themselves are very toxic to bees.

However, despite their toxicity, they repel bees, so that the effective toxicity in the field is low. Examples are: cypermethrin, Ripcord®.

This group of chemicals remains persistent for several years and coupled with the fact that they accumulate in animal fat makes them dangerous. Many are now banned from agricultural use, e.g., DDT, dieldrin, endrin, chlordane.

There is one chemical however, in this group that does not cause the above problems. This is endosulfan and it has relatively low toxicity to bees thus it is popular in agriculture.


These chemicals breakdown quickly and don't accumulate in body fat. Many of these chemicals that have high toxicity to bees.

Toxicity to bees:
high toxicity - methomyl (Lannate®) carbaryl (Carbaryl®)
low toxicity - primicarb (Pirimor®)


This is an interesting group of chemicals in that they persist for a few days and do not accumulate in body fat. The usual method associated with their use is in killing the insect on contact with the chemical. Some however, are absorbed into the plant and travel through the plant sap. These will therefore affect sap feeding insects.

Toxicity to bees:
High toxicity -dimethoate (Rogor®), chlorpyrifos (Lorsban®), methamidophos (Nitofol®),
methidathion (Supracide®), monocrothophos(Azodrin®)

Residual toxicity

A residual toxicity rating of RT25 is used. For a pesticide, this is the residual time required to bring the mortality to bees down to 25% -where bees are exposed to field weathered spray deposits.

The RT25 rating of chemicals can be found in data bases and chemical use lists.

Chemicals with:

  • RT25 of less than 2 hrs can be considered non-hazardous when bees are not foraging.
  • RT25 of less than 8 hrs can be applied at dusk with little hazard to bees.
  • RT25 with longer than 8 hrs then bees should be removed or confined.


Are you a member?

The Queensland Beekeepers' ' Association (QBA) is recognised by the Queensland Government as the Peak Industry Body. It represents its members (both professional and hobbyist) by talking to the political representatives of government, QBA committees formed within government, i.e., the Bee Industry Consultative Committee(BICC); media; other groups that may help us. Members make their needs and ideas known through branch meetings and attendance at the annual conference.

At present we have a crisis. The industry may loose many bee sites in what is now State Forest. We all know that without certainty of access to native forests most professional beekeepers would not have a business. Make sure that you know what is going on with access to our traditional practice of access to our native forests. On the positive side after long negotiations, the QBA is able to announce that it has been able to have six bee sites that were lost to industry relocated close to the original sites.

During 1999 we had a number of exotic bee incursions. QBA members worked alongside government personnel to ensure that the industry was protected from unwanted destructive pests and also ensured that information was released about the operations. Industry volunteers gave unselfishly of their time during these periods to help every beekeeper

If you are a hobbyist you may think that this does not concern you. Wrong. The QBA is also looking after your interests in trying to ensure that you are able to keep your one or two hives in an urban environment. Some beekeepers do not help the situation when they refuse to register their hives. Local Government makes the decision whether bees can be kept in their area and quite frankly it is easier for them to ban bees. We are consistently trying to ensure that bees are able to be kept and enjoyed in an urban environment.

Why this letter?

The QBA is a non profit organisation with a voluntary management committee committed to ensuring that your industry is an excellent industry that can ensure that its members can either make a living or simply enjoy the keeping of bees.

What can you do?

Join the QBA to ensure that we are truly representing all parts of industry and give us the financial backing through your subscriptions. .
President Phone: (07) 3343 5292
QBA secretary is: Bob Johnson P.O Box 49 Mapleton 4560 Fax: (07) 5478 6880.


Petrol should no longer be used to kill honeybees or as a solvent for copper napthenate.


All previous recommendations by the Department of Primary Industries (DPI) to use petrol to kill honeybees or as a solvent mixed with copper napthenate have been withdrawn.

Reference to the use of petrol can be found in:

  • 'Beekeeping -preserving hive equipment' if it was revised before 2000 (see bottom right-hand side of front page).
  • 'American Foulbrood (AFB)' leaflet number QL94001 (see bottom lefthand side of front page).
  • the 'Bee Book' by Peter Warhurst and Roger Goebel pages 32-33.

This follows advice that use of petrol for such purposes is inappropriate under the provisions of the Queensland Workplace Health and Safety Act 1995 and Regulations of 1995 and 1997.

Mineral turps is recommended as a replacement for both petrol and power kerosene as a solvent for copper napthenate for preserving timber hive material.

At the present time, no alternative recommendation is available to petrol as a killing agent. Consideration of available options is expected to take some time as this process involves conducting the scientific tests in order to effectively evaluate the safety and practicality of identified options for killing diseased hives.


ATTENTION: Amateur Beekeepers on the Sunshine Coast

Are you interested in supporting one another in an interesting, informative and social group such as the Association of Amateur Beekeepers on the Sunshine Coast? This proposal has the support of the local Branch of the Q13A and advice would be forthcoming from the DPI representative in Nambour.

Interested hobbyists are requested to contact:
Os and Betty Dent on 07 5443 0687 or by mail c/- PO Box 118 Buderim Q 4556.