April 2001

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Voluntary Contributors to AHBIC

AB’s Honey

Australian Rain Forest Honey

Australian Honey Bee Improvement Programme

Australian Sungold Queen Bees

Beeline Queens

Bradbury, GN and DJ

Capilano Honey Limited

CE Mills

Chiltern Honey

Coopers Fine Foods

Dewar Apiaries

Hunter Valley Apiaries

Koonoomoo Apiaries

R & E McDonald

R. Stephens

RC & DJ Phillips Pty Ltd

Pollination Association of WA

Swan Settlers

T & M Weatherhead

Walkabout Apiaries

Weerona Apiaries

Wescobee Limited

On the formation of AHBIC in 1998, it was agreed by industry that voluntary funding be established on the following basis:

On sales of Honey 1.5 cents per kilogram.
On sales of Queen Bees 0.75% of total sales.
On sales of Queen Bee Cells 0.75% of total sales.
On Pollination Services 20 cents per hive per
Pollination Service

In respect of contributions by members of HPMAA, one cent was apportioned to the beekeeping sector and 0.5 cents to the honey packers sector. Members of the HPMAA at the time kindly agreed to collect the beekeeping sector’s contributions.

AHBIC also acknowledges the beekeeper suppliers who contribute via their packer and queen bee supplier to AHBIC. We also urge beekeepers to support those packers/queen bee breeders who contribute to AHBIC.




A new Beekeeping Course has been recently introduced into NSW TAFE. The course is offered through The Open Training and Education Network Distance Education Institute of TAFE. The course is offered as a distance education course, which allows students to study at their own pace in comfortable surroundings.

The aim of the course is to improve the knowledge and skills needed to set up and operate an apiary. The course is aimed at hobby beekeepers, part-time farmers and commercial beekeepers.

All the learning materials are provided by OTEN-DE as part of the enrolment in the course. Teaching support is given to students via comments on submitted assignments, telephone contact and attendance at practical sessions.

The course is equivalent to 73 hours of classroom tuition and is divided into five modules, which cover the following subject areas:

1. Bee colony structure and handling
2. Bee flora, nutrition and crop pollination
3. Bee products
4. Bee diseases, parasites and pests
5. Beekeeping practical skills

The 'Practical Skills' modules provide the necessary hands-on training required for all aspects of beekeeping. Students attend a weekend beekeeping practical session at a beekeeping centre where all aspects of beehive design and construction, bee handling, disease management and queen rearing are demonstrated.

At the end of this course, students are issued with a TAFE Statement in Beekeeping, Some students may be eligible for financial assistance through FarmBis funding. The cost of the course is $250 over one year or $430 over six months.

If you would like to discuss any details pertaining to this course, or if you require a course information leaflet, please contact Rosie Stern on 02 9715 8540 or 9715 8511

Significant Improvement for the Rural Sector

Predicted Financial Improvement in the Farm Sector

The Australian Bureau of Agriculture and Resource Economics (ABARE) predicts a continuation in 2002 of the current significant improvement in the financial performance of the Australian farm sector, largely as a result of higher prices received for farm products, combined with an increase in production.





Increase in net value of farm production



Increase in overall index of prices received



Increase in value of farm exports



Farm exports



These forecasts were made under the assumption of an appreciating Australian dollar from an average of around $US 0.55 in 2000-01 to $US 0.57 in 2001-02.

Grains and oilseeds (1999-2000 production $13,990m; exports $7,231m)

World grain prices are expected to improve in 2001-2002 as consumption grows faster than production and stocks fall. The total Australian area sown to grains is projected to increase from 20.9 to 21.7m hectares by 2005-2006.

World economic growth, the size of grain crops, and agricultural policies in the EU and US are the key issues affecting the five-year outlook for Australian producers. As a proportion of gross income, government support to producers is estimated to have increased in the US from 38% to 46% between 1998 and 1999, and in the EU from 56% to 58%. Australian wheat growers receive 11% support, typically through research and development, and exceptional circumstances relief.

Non-GM canola

Two major competitors, the US and Canada, have rapidly adopted GM crops. As virtually the only source of exportable non-GM canola, the Australian grain industry would be the main beneficiary of any premiums that might exist for non-GM grain.

Wool (1999-2000 production $2,175m; exports $2,140m)

Demand for wool is forecast to continue to improve over the medium term. China is expected to remain a significant buyer of Australian wool for domestic consumption as well as for processing and re-export. Stocks of unsold wool in Australia have declined from 3.1 m bales in 1990 to about 1.5 m bales in 2000.

Cotton (1999-2000 production $1,402m: exports $1,330m)

With world consumption exceeding production and stocks falling, cotton prices are forecast to rise by 20% in 2000-01 and a further 11% in 2001-02. Australian cotton plantings and production are forecast to rise, but concerns about water diversions may constrain the longer-term expansion of irrigated cotton.

Beef (1999-2000 production $4,612m: exports $2,905m)

Australia exports 60% of its beef production, 39% of this to the USA and 36% to Japan. Returns in the short term will be influenced by buoyant demand and lower global supplies. The BSE scare in Europe is unlikely to have a major impact on EU beef imports from Australia due to a substantial fall in demand and a strict 7000 tonne quota. However, Australia and other BSE-free exporters may increase trade with countries previously supplied by the EU.

Lamb (1999-2000 meat production $873m; meat exports $356m)

NZ lamb production is expected to decline over the medium term. Strong demand is expected (particularly the US), leading to saleyard prices of over 200 cents per kilogram.

Live cattle and sheep (1999-2000 exports $617m)

Exports of live cattle to Indonesia climbed to over 297,000 in 2000 (almost double the 1999 exports), making it the largest market for Australian live cattle. With producers focussing on flock rebuilding, exports of live sheep (4.8 m in 1999-2000) are forecast to remain relatively flat over the medium term.

Pig meat

More than 60% of Australian pig meat exports are air-freighted to Singapore. Strong Asian demand is expected to continue, but heightened competition is likely to erode Australia’s market share.

Dairy (1999-2000 production $2,853m; exports $1,608m)

The volume of Australia’s dairy exports is projected to increase over the medium term, led by increased in cheese and whole milk powder exports. Positive outcomes from trade negotiations are essential for a continuing expansion of export market share.

Sugar (1999-2999 production $880m; exports $669m)

Australian sugar export unit returns are forecast to fall in 2001-02 as a result of lower world prices and an assumed appreciation of the $A, but grower incomes and average returns per hectare planted are expected to improve.

Fisheries products (1999-2000 production $2,322m; exports $1,988m)

Economic growth in key markets and the depreciation of the $A contributed to exports of Australian seafood of $1.54b in 1999-2000. The prospect of continued economic growth in Asian economies provides a positive outlook in the medium term.


Wine (1999-2000 exports $1,352m)

The very positive performance of the Australian wine industry was reviewed in the previous issue of Australian Economic Trends. Australia ranked eighth in terms of area under grape vines in 2000.


Area (ha)


Area (ha)


Area (ha)















S. Africa









Source: ABARE Australian Commodities, March 2001.

Upcoming Events

Please note the following dates in your diary!

New South Wales Apiarists Association

31 May-1 June 2001 Port Macquarie

Western Australian Farmers Federation- Beekeeping Section

8-9 June 2001

Victorian Apiarists Association

14-15 June 2001 Central Region

South Australian Apiarists Association

21-22 June 2001

Queensland Beekeepers Association

28-29 June 2001 Sunshine Coast

Tasmanian Beekeepers Association

6-7 July 2001 Hobart


Honey Packers and Marketers Association

To be advised

National Council of Pollination Associations

To be advised

Australian Queen Bee Breeders Association

2 June 2001, Port Macquarie

Australian Honey Bee Industry Council

9-10 July 2001 - Hobart

Queensland Fire Ants

In California in late 1999, the fire ant issue with the almond growers was a sore point between beekeepers supplying the pollination service and the growers. It was found (so they say) that the fire ant was introduced into the almond orchards via beehives. This was no doubt the case as, since that time, inspections of hives have been introduced before they are shipped into Californian almond crops from those areas where fire ants have been reported. In dollar terms it is costing the almond growers a substantial sum of money to now control the ants.

Beekeepers should be aware of the possible consequence of their movements on the spread of the fire ant. Amateurs and city based semi-commercial beekeepers should be on the alert, especially those who carry out pollination. All beekeepers should keep a close eye on the area around their apiary sites for any different type of nests.

Rob Manning Agriculture WA

AFFA’s Young People in Rural Industries Initiative

The Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Warren Truss, recently launched a major new initiative aimed at encouraging young Australians to make a greater contribution to government policy development and rural industry leadership.

The cornerstone of this new initiative is the Young Rural Leaders Program. Applications are now open for the inaugural Young People’s Leadership Course and will close on the 4th May 2001.

If you are aged between 18-35 years, you are encouraged to apply. If you would like a copy of the information package, please contact AFFA on 1800 686 175, or visit the website

AFFA is encouraging applications from young people in rural industries who want to put their hands up, to be more involved in government policy and program development, industry leadership and decision making processes at the national level.

Warren Truss Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry


The Annual General Meeting of the Australian Honey Bee Industry Council will be held on Monday 9th (commencing at 1:30pm) and Tuesday 10th July, 2001 (closing at approximately 3:30pm) with an industry dinner on Monday evening. The Conference will take place at the Highway Village Motor Inn, 897 Brooker Highway, Berriedale, Tasmania (03 6272 6721). Accommodation is available ranging from $65.00 to $90.00 per night and delegates are advised to make their own travel and accommodation arrangements advising the motel of your attendance at the Beekeepers' Conference. AHBIC will pay the travel costs of delegates. Rather than booking fares through Ansett, we will reimburse the cost of air tickets through any airline. There is now a wide range of discounted tickets available through all airlines. Please book early to take advantage of these savings.

The AHBIC Conference will follow the Tasmanian Beekeepers' Association Annual Conference which will be held on 6th and 7th July 2001. Plans are being made for a tour of the Cadbury Chocolate Factory during the Conference and a bus tour of the Huon Forest is being organised for Sunday 8th July. An invitation is extended to wives and families to visit Tasmania and to join in the activities. For further details concerning the Tasmanian Conference please make contact with Harold Ayton on 03 6425 2089 or Shirley Stephens on 03 6363 1170



Crop Report New South Wales

Red stringy bark has long finished with a fair to good crop produced.

Mugga ironbark in the central and south west is flowering with hives being moved on to it. Rain is needed in most places for a good crop. Spotted gum on the south coast is starting to flower with hives also being moved to these sites. Napunyah in the north west is flowering but rain is needed to ensure a supply of good pollen and also a good honey flow. White box is starting to flower in the central west but most beekeepers will not place hives on it before early spring.

Stock Report New South Wales

Light honey is still in short supply which has seen a price rise for most honeys. The darker honey production has gone mostly straight to packers so, overall, when spring arrives all honey could be in short supply.

Eddie Podmore

Quarantine Report

Port surveillance

As promised, here is a summary of the different States and what is happening in each. To date, there has been nothing untoward turn up in the test results. There have been some pollen mites (Melittiphis) found and some external mites but this is to be expected.

Testing is normally carried out on a three (3) monthly basis. The tests are for varroa, tropilaelaps and tracheal mites.

We thank those cooperating beekeepers for the use of their hives.

Queensland: There are 6 hives situated at Weipa, Cairns, Townsville, Gladstone and Brisbane.

New South Wales: There are 44 hives situated at Iluka, Richmond RAAF Base, Port Botany, Newcastle, Darling Harbour and Garden Island.

Victoria: There are 6 hives situated at Port of Geelong at Corio, Portland and Port Melbourne,

South Australia: There are 6 hives situated at Port Adelaide, Torrens Island and Port Pirie

Western Australia: There are hives situated at Fremantle, Geraldton, Dampier, Port Headland, Broome, Wyndham, Bunbury, Albany and Esperance.

Tasmania: There are 8 hives situated at Devonport, Burnie, Bell Bay and Hobart

Northern Territory: There are hives situated Darwin and Gove.

Varroa preparedness workshop & competency training

Planning is well under way for this workshop. Each State and the Northern Territory will be sending an industry representative and a Government Department representative. There will also be representatives from AQIS. The second phase of the competency will be in New South Wales in spring. More on that as it comes to hand.

The training that our industry people will receive will be invaluable and there will also be training, at a later date, for our response teams. Whilst our Government personnel are dedicated to the job, they will not always be there. There are retirements, transfers and redundancies to deal with.

I recall that back in the 80’s there was a team that went to New Zealand to look at chalkbrood. However when chalkbrood actually came, most of those Government personnel were no longer in the job and it fell upon industry to carry the case forward.

Industry can be grateful that we are part of Animal Health Australia and, through that agency, we have access to people who can carry out this competency training for us. Also the fact that we have had a very good relationship with AQIS and now Biosecurity Australia has meant that industry has been able to access the knowledge within these agencies.

I said many years ago that industry must take more and more responsibility for its own destiny and we are able to achieve this through AHBIC.

Varroa in New Zealand

A little more on the alternatives that are to trialled in New Zealand against varroa.

HortResearch is carrying out the research on behalf of MAF New Zealand. This has come about because some beekeepers are selling organic honey into Europe and they will not be able to use the current acaricides. They need some sort of organic alternative. They are also worried about the resistance to current acaricides by varroa that has developed in Europe and North America. Some sort of sustainable treatment regime is being sought.

Foot and Mouth Disease

To date, there are no new developments as far as beekeepers are concerned. It will become more evident as spring comes to the UK.

Protect Australian Livestock Week

Protect Australia Livestock Week has come and gone. What did you learn about it? I would like some feedback from industry people on how they saw the week and what exposure they had to it.


Bee bird research in Darwin

Glenn Bellis has just written up his research on looking at examining the regurgitated pellets from bee birds to see if they identify the bee wings. It has proved successful and I will include a summary of his research when it becomes public.

Glenn recently did a radio interview on local radio in Darwin. I have just received a transcript of this. It will be circulated widely so beekeepers can see what interest there is in this.

Trevor Weatherhead

Crop Report Victoria

Honey production in Victoria for season 2000-2001 has almost finished, apart from some small areas of iron bark and grey box which are still yielding. After a cold snap at the end of March, dry, warm autumn conditions have again set in, allowing production to continue in the above areas.

Yellow gum is budded again over a wide area and, while the dry, warm weather continues, may produce a small surplus this side of winter. Spring production from this species will depend on whether flowering over winter is likely to be held back by prolonged cold temperatures.

Some apiaries have already left Victoria for warmer climes, such as the channel country in New South Wales and Queensland for napunyah and the coast of New south Wales for spotted gum.

Some early predictions of drought in eastern Australia during 2001-2002 as a result of a new El-nino phenomenon are a worry. For nearly 20 years, Victoria and some other states have been significantly rain-deficient on average and this has had a cumulative effect on much of the melliferous flora. The improvement made by native flora in Victoria as a result of the good soaking rains of last winter and spring need the reinforcement of another good winter rainfall.

Lynton Briggs

Crop Report South Australia

Some brief rainfalls have been received since the last report but conditions are very dry again.

West Coast - Upper: Euc. gracilis is producing, Euc, diversifolia is starting to flower but budding is patchy.

West Coast Lower: Euc. diversifolia is just starting to flower with signs of nectar yield. Lincoln weed is going off but suitable for building bees. Peppermint is patchy with some yield, but almost finished.

Riverland: White mallee starting to flower.

Central: Pink gum and cup gum flowering

Northern- Upper: Some honey from grey box which has almost finished flowering. Blue gum is flowering early. Conditions are dry again after some light falls of rain.

Northern Lower: Some nectar yield from peppermint, which is patchy. Some ground flora germination but conditions are dry again.

Kangaroo Island: Cup gum flowering is prolific and yielding well. Pink gum is very heavily budded and in some areas is flowering. Bees are doing well where there is a range of pollens. If warm weather continues, hives should go into winter with good stores of honey and pollen in the brood box.

South East: A lot of bees are still sitting on the last of the stringy bark and droopy blue gum. Most beekeepers are waiting for a little more rain to shift onto banksia. Some bees are in Ngarkat and showing signs of breeding an opening up. In the north west area, a few beekeepers were able to extract some of their bees on early styhpelia. There is some banksia that looks promising but more rain is needed to guarantee any honey. Bee strength looks good for the almond crops.

Kay Lambert

Crop Report Tasmania

Honey production for 2000-2001 has concluded with just average crops being reported by commercial beekeepers.

Very little remains unsold and most prices were lower than expected. Prepaks continue to create overseas interest and the low dollar may bring some new openings, but supply could be the problem, as local sales are holding.

Supermarket shelf prices are finally showing an upward movement. It will be interesting to note whether this trend goes to the producer.

Good rains are experienced in mid March after a long warm dry spell. Snow fell just before Easter and most areas have at last received useful follow up rains this week (18th April).

Hives will need to be carefully watched throughout the winter months, as quite a few are low on stores due to very warm March/April period with practically nothing flowering.

Tasmania extends a warm welcome and invitation to all beekeepers, their wives and families, to our Annual Conference to be held in Hobart with a field trip arranged for July 6-7, FCAAA meeting on July 8 and the AHBIC Conference on July 9-10.

Shirley Stephens

Crop Report and Stock Report

There has been some honey production in Queensland in recent weeks. The Channel Country remains the area with greatest potential, the main requirement being good rainfall prior to the onset of cold weather. The buds are there on the Yapunyah but very little pollen flora is flowering. Reports indicate limited numbers of hives are on sites and supplementary protein feeding has been under way for a few weeks.

There is limited budding on White Box and Caley’s Ironbark. Caley’s began yielding last week. Pollen again will be the problem. Reports indicate Narrow Leaved Ironbark is not likely to represent a major honeyflow this season. Tea Tree has been flowering but crop reports are sketchy and it has rained on this limited resource which will slow production.

A number of honey producers have reported having good bees but others report that colonies have closed down for winter. Honey not required for stores has been extracted and moved rapidly to markets. Very few honey producers have any stock on hand.

Much of Queensland remains very dry and good rains are urgently needed. Coastal areas are showing some growth and budding for Spring and Summer crops. Crop forecasts to December suggest slightly below average honey production.

Bill Winner

ABC Radio National

Bush Telegraph, produced by the ABC’s Rural Department for Radio National, will be broadcast for one hour every weekday at 11am.

Bush Telegraph not only will give voice to the many concerns, ideas and aspirations of people living outside urban Australia, it will profile the innovative plans and projects in many towns which see their communities alive and thriving. Those outside the cities will be given a voice and discussions often will be extended online, inviting wide participation.

Bush Telegraph will look at the inspirational stories that abound in the bush as well as getting behind the headlines on the big issues.

In many cases, key issues affecting people in regional Australia have their roots in our capital cities and overseas, and the programme will explore the links between them as well as the divide. Many urban Australians have a keen interest in the country and the lives of the people and Bush Telegraph will aim to increase the dialogue between them.

This new programme will be looking to canvass widely for opinions and insights. Please advise the programme of any innovation, issue of importance or emerging debate in your field. The programme aims to provide a breadth of views on the subject matter and seek input into the process.

If you would like further information, or wish to get in touch with the programme, please contact Margot Foster, the producer of Bush Telegraph on tel: 03 9626 1233, fax: 03 9626 1733 or via email: