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January 2000

Honey  - Australia's Liquid Gold

All rights reserved This publication is copyright 
A publication of the Australian Honey Bee Industry Council

Voluntary Contributors to AHBIC

AHBIC wishes to thank all those who contribute to the support of the organisation. It would be prudent,  when purchasing queen bees or selling honey, to consider supporting those who support the industry and conduct price comparisons on that basis. A list of all current contributors appears below.
AB’s Honey
Australian Bee Exporters
Australian Honey Bee Improvement Programme
Capilano Honey
CE Mills
Chiltern Honey
Coopers Fine Foods
Daybreak Apiaries
Dewar Apiaries
HL & HM Hoskinson
Hunter Valley Apiaries
IJ & PA Oakley
J. Picker
Jackel & Son
R & E McDonald
R. Stephens
RC & DJ Phillips Pty Ltd
Swan Settlers
T & M Weatherhead
Walkabout Apiaries
Weerona Apiaries
Wescobee Limited
Windsor Farm Foods Pty Limited
Carriage of Bees

Recently, breeders have experienced problems sending queen bees through Australia Post and AHBIC undertook to have discussions with Australia Post and Qantas concerning these difficulties.  A meeting was held in late December with the honey bee industry represented by Laurie Dewar and Stephen Ware.  It was resolved that all consignments of queen bees through Australia Post will have a signed sticker on each consignment stating “This consignment meets IATA Container Requirement 61”.

The Australian Queen Bee Breeders Association (AQBBA) has had some stickers printed and these are available through AQBBA.  It is suggested that you order only enough for use in this season as the design of the sticker will be reviewed later and a check will be made with Australia Post and Qantas to make sure they are satisfied with the way the system works.  Any changes that may need to be made can be made before next season.  At present the sticker has to be on a fluorescent green background with black printing.  If you wish to produce your own, a format can be obtained from Trevor Weatherhead at AQBBA (Phone: 07 5467 2135).

Asian Bee Incursion in Brisbane

On 20 December 1999, some heavy earth moving equipment arrived in Brisbane on the “Aoteraoa Chief” at Patrick’s Wharf at the mouth of the Brisbane River. It had come from Lae in Papua New Guinea. It was unloaded on 21 December and on 24 December moved to a holding yard about one (1) kilometer away to be cleaned.

On 29 December, bees were seen flying around the grader and were seen working out from the front section of the grader. Identification of the bees by an AQIS Entomologist, Bill Crowe, showed them to be Asian Bees (Apis cerana).

The grader was fumigated on 29 December and dead bees were picked up from under the grader. There were approximately 5,000 bees there. A section of the grader was cut out by oxy and the nest removed for further examination. It would seem that the nest had been present for a long time.  A second nest was found in a crane which had also been sent to be cleared. This was also fumigated.  It appears that this nest was uninhabited as wax moth and, what appeared to be a rat or mouse nest, had taken over.

Mites and the nest

Mites were found in the worker brood.  They were dead, having been killed by the methyl bromide fumigation.  They have been officially identified as Varroa Jacobsoni. 

Dr Denis Anderson carried out DNA testing, examination for tracheal mites and the official identification of the mites found with the brood. The DNA determination shows that the bees are the Java Flores type.  Dr Anderson has found that the real Varroa mite in Papua New Guinea will not reproduce on Apis mellifera. Mites were also found in the bottom of the bottle holding the remains of the 5,000 bee samples.  These bees have been suspended in alcohol.

There was only a relatively small area of brood comb which had a very poor brood pattern.  There were only three drone cells with caps on them, the rest were empty.  When these drone cells were opened, the larvae inside was very dry, like tissue paper.

There were two (2) queen cells found on the comb and when they were opened, it was estimated that they were about two (2) days off hatching if they colour the same way as mellifera does.  Discussions have been had with a Philippino person who has worked with cerana for the National Philippines University and he said that cerana can supersede like mellifera.  There were eggs present in the comb and some were still upright.  If they are the same as mellifera then it would seem the queen was present in the hive when it was gassed.  This, plus the number of bees present, suggests that it did not swarm.

Other machinery

Originally there were other pieces of machinery which had also been on the ship but had been delivered.  These were examined immediately the cerana was found and nothing was found on this machinery.  A second precautionary inspection of these pieces was made and still nothing found.


The Queensland Department of Primary Industries (QDPI) has established a six (6) kilometre quarantine zone around the original find.  A search by record of registrations and in a helicopter has revealed about 50 hives in one apiary on the edge of the zone, three (3) hives on white Island and two (2) in a backyard in Wynnum North.  These will be used as sentinel hives.


There has been good media coverage of the incursion and most has been accurate.  It is interesting that the Queensland Fruit and Vegetable Growers Organisation Chairman, Paul Ziebarth, when interviewed on the ABC Country Hour on Friday January 7, 2000, supported the pollination aspect of what we have been saying.

The press releases of the QDPI and the Australian Quarantine Inspection Service (AQIS) would have been circulated previously.  If you do not have a copy, contact the AHBIC office. 

New South Wales and Victoria have considered bans on live bees from Queensland but these have not materialised at this time.  Part of the consideration was based on inaccurate information and this has now been corrected.

AHBIC has written to the Minister for Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Australia with copies to the Acting Prime Minister, Senator Troeth and Kay Elson.

I have spoken with Dr David Banks from AQIS and he will most likely be visiting Lae when he travels to Papua New Guinea shortly.  Lae has now been identified as a high risk port.  Also AQIS has now reviewed its inspection procedures in light of the incursion in Brisbane.  The incursion has certainly raised the awareness of AQIS Officers Australia-wide to the possibility of an incursion by Apis cerana or any other bees.

Most of the above information was supplied by:-Trevor Weatherhead
Chairman - AHBIC Quarantine Sub-Committee

Telephone Conference - Asian Bee Incursion

AHBIC hosted a telephone hook-up on January 11, 2000 with members of various State Departments and industry representatives to discuss aspects of the Asian bee incursion.  The following recommendations were agreed at that teleconference.

1. All feral and managed hives within the six (6) kilometre quarantine zone be destroyed.  Beelining methods to be used for detecting hives.

2. Monitoring for Varroa and Tropilaclaps mites within the perimeter be carried out monthly after destruction of the hives within the quarantine zone.  For this purpose, new hives from at least 50 kilometres away are to be used.

3. That pheromone traps be used within the quarantine zone to monitor for Apis cerana.

4. To increase the awareness of the forklift operators at Smith Brothers and other container areas in the Fisherman’s Island area as to the possibility of bees being present.

5. That sticky mats and acaricide pest strips be used on the managed hives within the quarantine zone prior to destruction.

6. A 25 kilometre voluntary zone for the non movement of bees be established and there by selected monitoring of hives within this zone using sticky mats and acaricide strips.

7. That these recommendations be discussed with Dr Denis Anderson.

8. That industry assist AQIS to examine the bees collected for the presence of a queen.

Correspondence has also been sent to the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Hon Warren Truss, concerning the matter, as well as Hon John Anderson, the Acting Prime Minister at the time.  A copy of this correspondence is attached for your information.

Bumble Bees

In November, 1999 the Museum of Tasmania hosted a workshop in Hobart to discuss the possibility of importing to Tasmania and/or mainland Australia, Bombus terrestris the large bumble bee which is now present in Tasmania.

Workshop participants represented various elements of the community, environmental and horticulture industry. AHBIC was represented by Bob McDonald.

The apiculture industry does not oppose such an import providing there is clear proof that there is no threat to industry by way of the introduction of exotic pests or diseases of honey bees which could endanger the survival of the industry.  There was also the proviso that evidence would be necessary to clearly indicate that Braula coeca ( a wingless fly which lives and multiplies in honey bee hives) currently present in Tasmania would not be introduced to the mainland.

The National Museum is to conduct a three year study into the feasibility of these imports.

Vale Wendy Manning

It was with regret that we heard of the death of Wendy Manning.  The members of the AHBIC Executive express their deep sympathy to Geoff and family.


It has been reported in the media that, after July 1, 2000 when the GST is implemented, a special variety of postage stamps will be available (without the GST cost component) for use by exporters when sending exports by mail to overseas countries.  The system has not yet been fully documented and, when the information is available, we will further advise beekeepers.

NSW Apiarists Association - Annual Conference

Due to unforeseen circumstances, the date of the 2000 Annual State Conference has had to be altered.  Please note that the Conference in Tamworth will now be from Wednesday May 31 to Friday June 2, 2000.  This will be followed by a Field Day organised by the Tamworth Branch on Saturday June 3, 2000.  Please note this change and mark it on your calendar.

Codex Alimentarius

AHBIC recently made a submission to the Codex Alimentarius Commission concerning discussions on the Draft Revised Codex Standard for Honey to be held at the Joint FAO/WHO Food Standards Programme, Codex Committee on Sugars, Seventh Session to be held in London, United Kingdom, 9-11 February 2000.   Comments on the Standard were forwarded to AFFA and included AHBIC’s concerns on the determination of  the sugar content of honey, adulteration, acidity, moisture content and veterinary drug residues.

To assist in the understanding of the Codex Standards Programme, following is a summary of the Commission and its activities.

The officials and experts who laid the foundations and determined the direction taken by activities of the Joint FAO/WHO Food Standards Programme and the Codex Alimentarius Commission were first and foremost concerned with protecting the health of consumers and ensuring fair practices in the food trade.  They felt that, if all countries harmonised their food laws and adopted internationally agreed standards, such issues would be dealt with naturally.  Through harmonisation, they envisaged fewer barriers to trade and a freer movement among countries, which would be to the benefit of farmers and their families and would also help to reduce hunger and poverty.  The founders concluded that the Codex Alimentarius would be a panacea to some of the difficulties that were impeding freedom of trade, a view that is reflected in the General Principles under Purpose of the Codex Alimentarius.

The volume of world food trade is enormous and is valued at between US$300 billion and $400 billion.  A principal concern of national governments is that food imported from other countries should be safe and not jeopardise the health of consumers or pose a threat to the health and safety of their animal and plant populations.  Consequently, governments of importing countries have introduced mandatory laws and regulations to eliminate or minimise such threats.  In the area of food, animal and plant control, these measures could be conducive to the creation of barriers to inter-country food trade.

The General Principles of the Codex Alimentarius state:-

“The publication of the Codex Alimentarius is intended to guide and promote the elaboration and establishment of definitions and requirements for foods to assist in their harmonisation and in doing so facilitate international trade.”

Code of Ethics for International Trade in Food - General Principles

4.1 International trade in food should be conducted on the principle that all consumers are entitled to safe, sound and wholesome food and to protection from unfair trade practices.

4.2 No food should be in international trade which:

(a) has in it or upon it any substances in an amount which renders it poisonous, harmful or otherwise injurious to health;  or
(b) consists in whole or in part of any filthy, putrid, rotten, decomposed or diseased substance or foreign matter, or is otherwise unfit for human consumption;  or
(c) is adulterated; or
(d) is labelled, or presented in a manner that is false, misleading or is deceptive; or
(e) is sold, prepared, packaged, stored or transported for sale under insanitary conditions.

The next monthly edition of this update, will include details of the AHBIC submission on bee diseases to be included in the Australian Government’s submission to the OIE International Animal Health Code Chapter 

Australian Animal Health Council (AAHC)

As previously advised, AHBIC is now a full member of the AAHC.  The AAHC has now established a task force to resolve outstanding concerns and develop a new emergency animal disease cost sharing agreement.  The first meeting will be in Canberra on 2nd February 2000.  AHBIC is keen to see bee diseases covered by the agreement.  Further updates will be advised as discussions progress. Industry is to participate in the Protect Australian Livestock Week (PALW).  The campaign runs from March 26th to April 1st, 2000 and aims to raise awareness about the constant threat of potentially devastating emergency animal diseases to Australia’s livestock industries and to encourage immediate reporting of disease suspicion to relevant authorities or veterinarians.  The event has achieved significant results over the last two years.

Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Australia Day Award Honour

Our congratulations and best wishes are extended to Dr Heloisa Mariath of the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry who was awarded a Year 2000 Australia Day Award for her outstanding efforts to assist the honeybee industry to develop strategies to prevent residue contamination of honey .



Southern beekeepers have reported very good crops of Blue Gum honey.  However, there is little to no Clover honey and only small patches of Blackberry.  The Prickly Box did not yield.  Some pollinating of canola and vegetable crops still in progress with interesting developments. 

North and North West beekeepers report light to moderate crops of Ground Flora honey, although the weather has turned quite warm.  December was patchy with many cold days and nights and heavy rain fell at the end of the month on the east coast but did not extend elsewhere.  Many hives are still heavily affected with Chalkbrood which appears to have caused a decrease in this light honey production compared to last year.

Prospects for Leatherwood

It is too early to give an accurate forecast.  It is unusually dry in all areas of Leatherwood forests with little surface water and almost all areas report early good flowering.  Beekeepers are moving quickly and hives that are in place are working well.  Prospects look promising for at least an average crop.

Stock on Hand

Blue Gum - good supplies
White Honey (Ground Flora) - below average.  Will be scarce.
Leatherwood - nil at this time (mid January)

Shirley Stephens

Western Australian Packer Stock Report

Stocks - Stock holding is now strong with most WA packers.  The six months ending December 1999 saw above expectations being delivered.  The Jarrah crop was only 60% of expectation and disappointed many beekeepers.  We would expect to maintain higher stocks in the short term.

Stockholding by Beekeepers - No honey is held by beekeepers.

Future Crops - The summer crops are looking slim due to the variable weather we are experiencing.  The Redgum is due in February/March but remains an unknown quantity at this time.

Overseas Demand - World buyers show demand but prices offered are very low.  They are aware of Australia’s stock situation and high prices compared to the world market.

Eddy Planken

New South Wales Crop Report

Yellow Box has been yielding very well in the central tablelands of NSW.  This flow will continue until about the middle of February.  Broad Leafed Ironbark has yielded well in the Harvey Ranges in the central west also.

There was little honey produced from Paterson’s Curse in the central districts but production was much better in the south of the state.  Prospects in the central west do not look food for autumn flows.  Bloodwood is looking quite good on the south coast.

New South Wales Stock Report

Some beekeepers are holding some stock hoping for a better price but this does not look like happening in the near future - or maybe not even in the longer term.

Overall stocks being held by beekeepers are not large.

Eddie Podmore

New South Wales Resource Report

National Parks

At last the new Beekeeping Policy for the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service Estate has been signed off.  The Association has been through a number of negotiations with senior staff of National Parks and it now looks like all of the details have been sorted out.

It has been a long hard haul since Pam Allan made an announcement of changes at out State Conference in Glen Innes last year.  We are truly grateful to her.

Transfer of Bee Sites

When a Consentee wishes to transfer a business site to another members of his/her immediate family (spouse, son or daughter), the consentee shall notify the relevant NPWS Regional Manager of his/her intention and confirm the transfer in writing once completed.

If a Consentee dies, the family should notify the relevant NPWS Regional Manager and indicate if the site is to be surrendered, transferred to another family member, or sold.

When an apiarist with a current consent sells his/her business, the vendor must notify the relevant NPWS Regional Manager in writing of the person to whom the business had been sold and provide all relevant contact details.  The new owner must agree to comply with all the conditions of the consent prior to the Service approving the transfer of the licence or the licence will not be transferred.

Vacant Bee Sites

When a site becomes vacant, surrendered or the consent is cancelled, the Service will notify the NSW Apiarists’ Association.  The Association will then advertise, in industry journals and at least one major regional newspaper in the area where the site is offered, for a new apiarist.  If there is more than one interested party, the Association will run a ballot and notify the Regional Manager of the successful applicant.  If no advice is provided to the service within 6 months of the date of the letter of advice to the NSW Apiarists’ Association, the site will be permanently surrendered.

All beekeepers that hold sites with National Parks will receive a copy of the new policy.

Regional Forest Agreement (RFA)

NSW Forestry and National Parks Estate Act 1998

This Act became law on 14th December 1998 and came into effect on 1st January 1999.  The purpose of the Act is firstly to transfer certain State Forest and other Crown lands in the Eden, upper and lower North East regions (RFA areas) to National Parks estate and aboriginal ownership.

Secondly, the Act provides for Forest Agreements between Ministers and a system of future management of approved forestry operations.  The Act also amends the Forestry Act of 1916 to provide for a category for informal reserves and also amends the Timber Industries Act to extend its operations for all future Ministerial Forest Agreement approvals.

Land Transfers to National Parks Estates and Aboriginal Ownership

This part of the Act provides for the adding of new National Parks, Nature Reserves and Crown and Flora Reserves.  It also provides for the transfer of lands to Local Aboriginal Land Councils.

Forest Agreements (Part 3 of the Act)

A Forest Agreements is an agreement between the NSW Minister about conservation and management of a region which has been the subject of a Regional Forest Agreement.  A Forest Agreement provides the provisions that promote Ecologically Sustainable Forest Management (ESFM).

A Forest Agreement also provides for community consultation on forestry operations and arrangements concerning Native Title rights and Aboriginal land claims.

The Ministers jointly review all Forest Agreements every five (5) years.  The Ministers are also to report to the State Parliament on the outcome of each review.

Integrated Forestry Operations Approvals (IFO)

This part of the Act provides for a coordinated approach to the regulations of approved forestry operations on State Forest and other Crown lands.  These approvals set out the terms and conditions under each forestry operation and may be granted for up to twenty (20) years, but must be reviewed every five (5) years.

The enforcement of IFO approvals is through the relevant licences and may be enforced in the same way as existing Acts such as the Pollution control Act, Protection of the Environment Operations Act and the Threatened Species Act.

Part 5 of the Act

The Forestry and National Parks Act amends the Forestry Act of 1916 to allow the Minister for Forestry to declare areas within State Forests to be Special Management Zones (SMZ)

Forestry Management Zoning (FMZ)

NSWAA has had some very successful negotiations with State Forests in the areas of FMZ.

Zone 1  Special Protection (Flora Reserves)

This area is the management to maximise protection of very high natural and cultural conservation values.

Recommendation for beekeeping in Zone 1 - pre-existing permits may be used, renewed and transferred.

Zone 2  Special Management Zone

The areas within this zone are designed to meet the requirements of the NFPS/Janis Informal Reserves Systems.

Recommendation for beekeeping in Zone 2 is beekeeping permitted under standard conditions.

Zone 3  Special Prescription Zone

This is the management for conservation of identified values of forest ecosystems.

Recommendation for beekeeping in Zone 4 is beekeeping permitted under standard conditions.

Zone 4  General Management Zone

This is the management for timber production utilising the full range of silvicultural options.

Recommendation for beekeeping in Zone 4 is beekeeping permitted under standard conditions.

In this Zone the NSWAA has made a further recommendation.  Where the use of full silvicultural options, there should be 120 of each species type left for honey production.

Zone 5  Hardwood Plantations

Beekeeping under standard conditions.

Zone 6  Non Forestry Use Zones (The management of cleared areas)

Beekeeping under standard conditions.

RFA’s will be signed off by Government on 31st March 2000.

National Native Title

There has not been a lot happening as far as Native Title is concerned in NSW.  Indigenous issues are of high priority under the NSW RFA process.

Greg Roberts

Queen Bee Breeders Report

During November and December, queen bee breeders experienced delays when posting queen bees through Australia Post.  The problem was caused by some of the Qantas ground staff refusing to load queen bees onto the aircraft.  AHBIC, by having meetings with senior management of Australia Post and Qantas, have now resolved the problem.  All shipments of queen bees sent through Australia post must now have a special label attached with the signature of the shipper.  These labels can be obtained by contacting the Secretary of Australian Queen Bee Breeders Association, Trevor Weatherhead on 07 5467 2135.

Col Wilson

Victorian Resources Report

The past month has seen some significant gains on Resources issue and bee sites in both north western Victoria and Gippsland.

North West Victoria

President of the Sunraysia Apiarists’ Association, Ron Robinson organised a meeting with SAA members, NRE and Parks Victoria staff to revisit issues that arose from the meeting in Horsham on June 29th, 1999.

One significant advance is to allow bee sites on bushland reserves that do not have a history of past usage for bee sites.  Each reserve will be treated individually and upon application, will be assessed by Parks Victoria as to suitability and, if refused, a written reason for the refusal will be provided.

If beekeepers need to fast-track this inspection and assessment, for a fee of $150 per day, and Officer could be made available on short notice.

119 Bee Sites in Murray Sunset National Park

There are less than 119 sites shown on the map.  Upon questioning this, we were told that 119 is the maximum number.  We do not have unconditional right to this number of sites.

This issue in ongoing.  When good seasons come back in the Mallee and beekeepers need additional bee sites will be the time to tackle this issue.

The point was made, “with approximately 80 vacant bee sites in the Mallee, why is there a need for additional bee sites?”

It was agreed that within the next 6-8 months, we would assess areas of bushland reserves and elsewhere where additional bee sites could be allocated, take GPS readings etc., so that when there is a demand for bee sites, allocation can be fast-tracked.
Gippsland RFA

On Monday November 29th at Traralgon, Bob Stevenson, Terry O’Kane, Loris Duclos, Eileen and myself met with Pam Robinson, Federal Government, and Peter McHugh, Regional Manager, NRE Gippsland.

We came to an agreement that logging in the vicinity of bee sites in both Gippsland and East Gippsland RFA areas would be re-assessed.

NRE will re-programme their clear felling so that 60% of all timber in the vicinity of bee sites would be at least 40\50 years old.  Also, NRE is prepared to look at a process of leaving a representative sample of mature honey producing trees in each coupe.  However, as both NRE staff and loggers do not know these trees, members of the beekeeping industry will have to be involved in the process.

Western Victoria RFA

Eileen and I, together with Gavin Jamieson, attended a meeting with Kylie White and Peter Tange, (with Ian Miles arriving later) NRE; Rhonda Dixon, Environment Australia; Kathryn Masters and Dougall Morrisons, Prime Minister’s Department, prior to the evening RFA Public Consultation meeting in Ballarat in October.  We had a general discussion about the use of Western Victoria RFA areas by the beekeeping industry.

Native Title

On Monday, December 6th, Michael Ryan and  Rachel, an associate, from Corrs Chambers & Westgarth, Solicitors, flew into Victoria from Sydney.  I met them at the airport and Graeme Matthews and I spent four days driving them around the Wimmera Native Title Claim area, inspecting bee sites and taking to beekeepers with bee sites within the Claim area.

During the week three meetings were held at:-

Maryborough on Monday 6th at which 8 beekeepers were present
Douglas on Tuesday 7th at which 16 beekeepers were present
Carwarp on Thursday 9th at which 8 beekeepers were present

Some of the items that need to be highlighted with the Wotjobaluk Peoples, other than conditions as indicated by our licences, are:-

the right to lop limbs from Mallee trees along tracks periodically to allow access for trucks
the right to periodically slash shrubs on heath land sites, and rake leaves etc on bee sites in Mallee areas
the right to access water for our bees and ourselves when working bees from natural water courses
the right to camp on our bee sites
the right to take honey from those bee sites

Michael and Rachel took numerous photos, notes and audio tapes during the week and spent considerable time talking with beekeepers getting different viewpoints on the issues affecting them.

Bob Mcdonald

Pollination Report

All spring horticultural crops have now finished flowering and beekeepers are busy servicing summer flowering crops.  These include seed lucerne, pumpkins, seed clover, vegetable seed crops etc.

Seed lucerne is the major user of managed bee hives over the summer.

Prices for bee hives are on the rise, with $40 per hive becoming common for lucerne and other summer crops.  However, some growers are reducing the number of bee hives they are using to contain costs.  Seed company advisors to these growers recommend that efficient pollination is the most critical factor in all of their actions in growing a crop but, despite this advice, cutting back  on the cost of pollination seems to be the first priority.

In the meantime, the demand for bee hives is slowly increasing and the willingness to pay a reasonable price for good service is also increasing.

Bob Mcdonald

South Australian Crop Report

South East - This area is having an extremely good year, being average to above average. 

Upper SE - The blue gum yielded exceptionally well.  Some beekeepers moved off the blue gum flow to meet lucerne pollination commitments.  Dryland and irrigated lucerne is yielding well.  All expectations are that it will be above average yield on lucerne.  Summer rains have put good growth on banksia;  follow-up rains will possibly ensure a banksia yield.

Some beekeepers have let their lucerne grower down at the last minute rather than giving plenty of notice that they would not be leaving another honey flow or that they have accepted higher pollination fees elsewhere.  This is not in keeping with the SA Code of Practice for pollination.

Lower SE - Carrot crop pollination is at its peak, with average yield expected if the weather is warm.  Lucerne is flowering.

Barossa - Red gum honey flow best for quite a few years, but the cool weather early has lessened the potential.

West Coast, Upper - Tea tree starting to flower, but poor budding.  Euc diversifolia is budded reasonably well for late autumn/winter prospects.  Still very dry.

West Coast, Lower - some sugar gum starting to flower and yield but poor budding this year.  Excellent budding for tea tree; prospects look promising.  Post Lincoln mallee (Euc lansdowneana) first commercial yield for many years.  Lincoln weed has been useful for breeding but was burnt off with the head.  December and early January excellent for breeding with red gum and Lincoln weed.  The blue gum yield was light to medium, the cool weather the main inhibitor of a honey flow.

Riverland - Christmas mallee and Euc dumosa flowering.  Pollination of the cucurbits is continuing.

Central - Increased demand for quality bees to pollinate berry crops in the Adelaide Hills.  Honey prospects in the hills poor following red gum.  Most commercial operators working out of the area.

Northern, Lower - Dryland lucerne yielded in the Booborowie area, but the flower burnt off during the hot weather.  A big percentage of beekeepers are working red gum in the Barossa.  Tea tree looks promising.  Blue gum yield was average, the cool weather did not allow it to yield to its potential.

Northern, Upper - Isolated pockets of blue gum yielded with late spring rains producing mixed ground floras which aided breeding.  Dryland lucerne yield has been disappointing, the weather being unfavourable; isolated pockets are still yielding.

Kangaroo Island - Very dry, cold weather has stopped nectar flows from flowering trees.  Bee numbers are down as breeding has been inhibited by weather conditions, the bees depleting their stores.  Some sugar gum flowering with limited flow.  Rain will be necessary for any prospects from cup gum and banksia.  Resources are now sustaining bees after a dearth over the pre-Christmas/New Year period.

South Australian Resource Report

The SA Apiarists’ Association, the SA Apiary Industry Consultative Committee and the Department of Environment, Heritage and Aboriginal Affairs continues to enjoy a very positive attitude towards conservation and managed honey bees in the National Estate.

Some apiarists have now been accredited to work with the National Parks fire service units and also are to be incorporated in the fire prevention and planning programmes.

Work will commence in February to log the positions of all National Parks bee sites and to record the vegetation type and the density of the bush in order to construct a useful mosaic for fire prevention and/or suppression.  This work is to be undertaken with equipment and personnel of the National Parks and registered site holders utilising the parks.  This may include sourcing information from park site holders who are resident interstate.

The area of parks in SA continues to grow with the depressed wool industry.  Thankfully we have in place a system whereby existing sites are respected.  Unfortunately fire and dry weather have taken a serious toll on the vegetation in parks in our state.

Leigh Duffield

Queensland Resource Report

Not a lot to report since the last report.  The issue of site permits only being renewed for one year in the new reserve areas within the RFA are, has been changed to now allow rollover of expiring permits to occur, (i.e. if the expiring permit was for 5 years, then the new one can be for 5 years.)  We have recently heard of a RFA implementation committee, but attempts to date to find out more have not been fruitful.  We have also hear of a committee which is drawing up species management protocols for EVR species and we would want input into this as well. 

Most forests in South East Queensland are having a large growth flush at present.  Some parts of the area had the wettest year ever last year, after nine dry years.  Parts of Central Queensland are still dry.

Duncan McMartin

Queensland Crop Report

The disastrous 1999/2000 season continues with honey producers in Queensland experiencing an average year. Cold conditions through spring and early summer followed by a heat wave in mid January have  played havoc with breeding conditions and honey production. Many honey producers have delivered their first honey for the season in January. Small patches of Coolibah yielded and cut off quite quickly in the  west. Grey Ironbark, Brush Box and Yellow Box yielded below average honey production. Honey producers will be watching closely for Gum Top Box, Brown Box and later on the channel country for Yapunyah.

A number of Queensland honey producers have been forced to travel south of the border in order to obtain a honey crop, again highlighting the strange weather conditions we have received in Queensland. Maintaining colony strength will remain a cause for concern due to lack of build flows. Trees are looking healthy and with more favourable weather conditions we can look forward to a better crop next year. 

Honey production will continue to be slow throughout the remainder of this season. 

Very little honey is being held as stock on hand by Queensland honey producers.

Bill Winner

Victoria Crop Report 


In spite of the unseasonably cool, windy weather over the critical mid-summer period, most commercial beekeepers across the state have harvested useful to substantial crops to this stage of the season.

Late spring and early summer rainfall extended the paterson’s curse crop, particularly in eastern Riverina districts.  Red gum, well budded throughout the Murray and its tributaries and in the western district. Broke early in most districts.  In the lower Riverina, red gum honey was being taken by mid December.  However, cool windy weather starting before Christmas extended to mid January and depreciated the crop in some districts, particularly in the western half of the state.

Yellow box also flowered well and, in the warmer weather, yielded.  There is a considerable quantity of high quality red gum/yellow box natural blend honey In beekeepers’ and packers’ hands, which should be earmarked by packers for the domestic market.

Gippsland’s rain deficiency continues, affecting all prospects.  The whole state now appears to be entering another dry period.  It is again cool and windy and there is some concern about the future outlook.

North East

Paterson’s curse, hill gum and river red gum have all yielded useful crops in spite of unsettled weather.  Beekeepers have moved into the foothills where narrow leaf peppermint, blue gum and messmate are prospects, flowering simultaneously.  This season is sharply in contrast with 1998/99, the poorest on record and a legacy of the 1997/98 drought.  The best autumn prospect is the unreliable long leaf apple box which carries a moderate budding in most districts.


Good crops of exceptionally high quality honey have been taken this far into the season.  The very dry spring and late flowering of some yellow gum resulted in a considerable quantity of this origin being harvested.  The best yield of red gum for many seasons has just finished, even allowing for cool and windy weather much of the time.  Many beekeepers did not have to move out of the region to work red gum as all the local creeks and valleys were well budded, an important factor when considering costs of production at a time when honey prices are relatively poor and continuing to fall.

Yellow box, also well budded, has yielded some honey.  There is a moderate budding on early flowering red iron bark which has broken and has started to yield.  With grey box a poor prospect again this season, autumn prospects are not very encouraging, although unexpectedly, yellow gum has again set bud.


Border district production of white clover led into a heavy red gum flowering which yielded well and produced a dense, high quality product with moisture content readings down to 13%.  Yellow box also yielded.  Some beekeepers serviced vegetable pollination requirements and reports indicate that growers are very satisfied with results.  Autumn prospects look very bleak.  If the current dry period extends too far, cobbing of desert banksia may be adversely affected.  Coastal districts are too dry for the strawberry clover prospect.


No substantial crops of honey are expected from Gippsland this season.  Earlier in the season, a small surplus was produced from white box and yellow box.  Clover production has been disappointing due to dry conditions.  In all districts, in spite of widespread flash flooding in parts in recent years, soil moisture content is well below normal and this is probably a major factor affecting plant growth, budding and secretion of nectar and pollen.  What the region needs, and the rest of the state for that matter, is a good wet winter.  East Gippsland received 50mm of rain last week and this may be enough for coastal blondwood to respond in the autumn. Coastal banksia is cobbed and will provide conditions.  Some commercial beekeepers have migrated apiaries over the Great Dividing Range to the upper north east Victoria where they are working narrow leaf peppermint and blue gum.  There are some minor prospects for the autumn, the best being a patchy budding on but-but apple box.

Linton Briggs

“Pests and Diseases of Honeybees - a Field Diagnosis Guide”

This excellent colour brochure produced by NSW Agriculture is currently being revised to include a section on the small hive beetle.

NSW Agriculture have agreed to make the brochure available to other States and apiary organisations.  Your local contact numbers and logos can be included in a print run.  Printing costs are detailed below.

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