January 2002

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Address: Level 12. 52 Phillip Street, Sydney NSW 2000 Telephone: 02 9247 1180
Mailing Address: PO Box R838, Royal Exchange NSW 1225 Facsimile: 02 9247 1192
Email Address: Website:
ABN 63 939 614 424

Voluntary Contributors to AHBIC
AB’s Honey Koonoomoo Apiaries
Australian Rain Forest Honey R & E McDonald
Australian Honey Bee Improvement Programme IJ & PA Oakley
Australian Queen Bee Exporters RC & DJ Phillips Pty Ltd
Australian Sungold Queen Bees Pollination Association of WA
Harold Ayton Queen-Bee-Ann Apiaries
Beeline Queens R. Stephens
Bradbury, GN and DJ Swan Settlers
Bush Honey Superbee Honey Factory
Capilano Honey Limited Tasmanian Crop Pollination Association
CE Mills Tasmanian Honey Company
Chiltern Honey T & M Weatherhead
Coopers Fine Foods Walkabout Apiaries
Dewar Apiaries Warral Apiaries
HL Hoskinson Weerona Apiaries
Hunter Valley Apiaries Wescobee Limited

AHBIC 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.

Does your honey buyer’s or queen bee supplier’s name appear on this list?
If not, then ask ‘why not?’

All rights reserved. This publication is copyright and may not be resold or reproduced in any manner (except excerpts for bona fide study purposes in accordance with the Copyright Act) without the prior consent of the Publisher. Every effort has been made to ensure that this newsletter is free from error or omissions. However, the Publisher, or its respective employees or agents, shall not accept responsibility for injuries, loss or damage occasioned to any person acting or referring from action as a result of the material in this newsletter whether or not such injury, loss or damage is in any way due to any negligent act or omission, breach of duty or default on the part of the Publisher, or its respective employees or agents.

Apimondia 2001

Following is another abstract of one of the various papers presented by Australian delegates at the recent Apimondia Conference held in Durban, South Africa. A full copy of the report is available from the AHBIC office on request.

Managing Honeybee Colonies in Flight Cages for the Production of Queen Cells

Australia has a honeybee quarantine facility that was specially built to hold imported honeybee queens in flight cages. Such a facility allows Australian beekeepers access to breeding stock throughout the world while, at the same time protecting Australia’s honeybees from exotic parasites. Australia is the only continent in the world free of parasitic mites and such a facility can take some of the credit.

The management of the colonies is critical to the success of this facility. The queens once introduced into nucleus colonies must be kept productive so grafting material is available to the importer. Nutrition must be kept up so the brood is well fed and the bees kept healthy with an even distribution of bees of all ages. The papers will describe the techniques used using pollen, pollen supplements, and sugar, brood frames and bulk disease free bees. No medication is fed to the colonies.

The quarantine facility was specially designed with twelve flight cages built by the government at the request of the beekeeping industry. Australia has taken the attitude to allow legal imports of queen bees through this facility that allows only grafting material to be released to the importer, with the original queen bees being destroyed when the importer has taken sufficient grafting material. Importers then take the grafted queen cells, away from the quarantine station without bees. The paper will discuss the techniques used, and the number of grafted queens queen cells produced.

Beekeepers use the facility to improve domestic stock, or daughter queens are re-exported to the country where the original queens were imported from so those beekeepers can get early queens from stock that perform well for them.

Imported queen bees can be kept in quarantine all months of the year due to Australia’s climate.

Bruce White – NSW Agriculture

South Australian Conference Dates

The SAAA annual conference is planned for Monday 24th and Tuesday 25th June, 2002. The venue chosen is "Dundees" at Murray Bridge. There is no accommodation at this venue. We will be providing accommodation information at a later date.

Kay Lambert, State Secretary

Request for Packaged Bees

AHBIC has recently received a request for large quantities of packaged bees from Australia to be exported to Dubai in U.A.E. Any supplier interested in this request should make contact direct with Abdul Kareem at

Australian Bushfires

As everyone will be aware, the December/January period was marred by devastating bushfires, particularly in New South Wales. Our thoughts are with those who lost livestock or property. AHBIC has made representation to the Premier of NSW, Mr Bob Carr, on their behalf. Losses included:-

Buildings Two beekeepers lost extracting sheds and, with one of those sheds the beekeeper lost his home.

Hives Approximately one thousand hives were lost involving at least fifteen beekeepers. The largest individual loss was 280 hives. It is estimated that well over half of those hives destroyed by fire were insured.

Flora By far the greatest loss caused by the bushfires to the beekeeping industry has been the destruction of the floral resource base.

Large areas of the following species have been destroyed: Blackbutt, Bloodwood, Narrowleaf Ironbark, Grey Mugga and Broadleaf Ironbark, Yellow White Red and Grey Stringybark, Brush Box, Spotted Gum, Smothed Barked Apple, Rough Barked Apple, Dwarf Apple, Narrow Leafed Apple, Mangroves, Tallowwood, Messmate, Mountain Ash, Peppermint, Grey Gum, Scribbly Gum, Mahogany, Sydney Blue Gum, Silver Top Ash, Tea Tree, Turpentine, Bangalay and Cuttail.

STOP PRESS: Following representations by AHBIC, the Premier has announced that beekeepers hit by bushfires will be eligible for financial help.

Resignation of Lloyd Smith

Lloyd Smith has announced his intention to resign from Capilano Honey and the AHBIC Board, after recently completing 30 years with the company.

Lloyd start as a part time student many years ago and has been involved in almost all facets of the business, more particularly export business, while always maintaining strong links with the beekeepers. He has also been actively involved in industry matters, in which his knowledge of the honey industry was invaluable to all.

The AHBIC Executive will miss his expertise and contribution to the board discussions and we wish him every success for the future.

January 2002


The Melbourne discovery of Asian Bees on a cargo ship from Lae, New Guinea, in January was a wake up call for the Australian honey bee industry. In terms of biosecurity practices, our industry is one of the most organised of all Australian livestock sectors – and even though the threat was eradicated, indicating our systems are working, we cannot rest on our laurels.

AQIS officers discovered the hive of Asian bees (apis cerana) on a ship moored at Swanson Dock after an inspection of all containers. Because the ship came from Lae, which is a designated Giant African Snail (GAS) port, every container is routinely examined.

Trevor Weatherhead, Quarantine Chairman, Australian Honey Bee Industry Council, explains that after AQIS officers confirmed the infestation, a local Response Team was activated. A trained local vet was called in to destroy the hive and the threat was eliminated right at the dock.

“The action was quick and effective,” says Mr Weatherhead. “It is a good example of how organised the honey bee sector is in terms of emergency animal disease and emergency response.”

The Australian honey bee industry has suffered comparatively few significant incursions of emergency animal diseases in the past decade. Most recently, in 1998 Darwin had an incursion of Asian honey bees as did Brisbane in 1999, and in 2000, an incursion of Giant Honeybees occurred in Brisbane. In New Zealand, however, they have not been so lucky. The well-publicised outbreak of Varroa mite in 2001 cost that industry many millions of dollars.

“Australia learned very valuable lessons from the New Zealand experience,” explains Mr Weatherhead. “Through the collaboration of the Honey Bee Industry Council, industry members and government, we have developed a multi-layered approach to biosecurity which has proven effective.”

The Australian Honey Bee Industry Council has recently developed a draft beekeeper industry biosecurity plan which will be implemented during 2002. The plan will develop an auditable biosecurity strategy for the industry as a whole and for individual beekeepers, covering both emergency/exotic animal diseases and endemic diseases.

Animal Health Australia is the agency charged with development of national emergency animal disease preparedness programs across Australia’s 12 major livestock industries. Animal Health Australia is running its producer awareness campaign, the ‘Protect Australian Livestock Campaign’ until June 2002.

The program will work in close collaboration with its 24 Members – the Commonwealth, State and Territory governments, and the peak councils of Australia’s largest livestock industries, including the Australian Honey Bee Industry Council. For the honey bee industry, campaign messages stress the importance of constant vigilance and biosecurity (commonsense hive management practices) by all producers. The theme for our industry is, if you suspect any unusual signs in your bees, ‘Look. Check. Ask your State Apiary Officer’.

“Everybody in the honey bee industry has a part to play in emergency disease surveillance,” says Dr Geoff Neumann, Chief Executive Officer, Animal Health Australia. “The Melbourne infestation of Asian Bees was a close call, but was handled proficiently and effectively by the system. With some sensible biosecurity procedures in place, everyone in the honey bee sector can help to minimise Australia’s risk and protect this important industry.”

To report unusual signs in your bees or an infestation of suspect bees, call your State Apiary Officer or the Emergency Animal Disease Hotline on 1800 675 888. For further information on the work of your industry representative body, contact Stephen Ware, Executive Director, Australian Honey Bee Industry Council on (02) 9247 1180. For more details on Animal Health Australia’s Protect Australian Livestock Campaign, telephone Animal Health Australia’s Communications and Member Services Manager, Jamie Penrose on (02) 6232 5522.

Editor’s Note: AHBIC would welcome the reproduction of this article as part of industry’s ongoing support for “Protect Australian Livestock Campaign”

AHBIC Executive Meeting

The AHBIC Executive met in Sydney on 9th/10th December 2001. A large number of issues were canvassed and brief outcomes of the meeting were:-

1. Plant Health Australia

The Executive took the view that it should investigate the possibility of becoming a full member of Plant Health Australia. Investigations indicated that, for an additional $150.00, industry could become a full voting member of Plant Health Australia. The amount has subsequently been paid and it is pleasing to report that our application will be considered at the next board meeting and the following general meeting to be held on 31st May 2002.

2. Resource Conference – Canberra

The Executive discussed the possibility of holding a Resource Conference in Canberra to coincide with the meeting of HBRDC researchers. It has been agreed that this Conference will be held on 30th April and 1st May 2002 and State Resource Managers will shortly receive details of this important conference. It is hoped that the outcome of the meetings will be to assist beekeepers to maintain their access to public lands. Further details will be included in the next edition of the newsletter.

3. Meeting with Heather Clay – Canadian Honey Council

The Executive met with Ms Heather Clay of the Canadian Honey Council and addressed a number of issues relating areas of mutual concern including the possible introduction of a national magazine and the problems encountered in Canada to achieve a MRL. She also indicated that Canada was well under way in the development of a HACCP-based food quality assurance programme for industry. Remarkably, this is extremely similar to the development of B-Qual Australia and Ms Clay expressed interest in obtaining information regarding this.

Ms Clay also raised the issue of the chemical imidacloprid and the problems reported by Canadian beekeepers. The issue has also been raised in Australia by Mrs Shirley Stephens and it was noted that this matter would continue to be monitored by industry.

4. Meeting with Horticulture Australia

Mr John Webster, the new head of Horticulture Australia, joined the meeting and discussed a large number of issues of mutual concern. The Executive appreciated the time spent with Mr Webster and he indicated that there was an opportunity for both organisations to undertake joint research projects.

5. Training Session in Canberra

Animal Health Australia has reported that they will be holding a training session in Canberra on 10th/11th March 2002. Following discussion of this matter by the Executive, it was resolved that Messrs Des Willmott and Stephen Fewster would attend on behalf of AHBIC. It has been noted, however, that this will not be the only training session held by Animal Health Australia and additional members of industry will be asked at various times to attend these sessions.

6. Apimondia 2007

Members will be aware that Australia was unsuccessful in its bid to host the Apimondia 2005, however, it was felt that industry should look at the possibility of running Apimondia 2007. Following brief discussion of this issue, it was felt that industry as a whole would need to support a bid if it was to be successful. In this case it was felt that all members of industry should vote on the decision of whether Melbourne and/or another group be invited to bid for Apimondia 2007. This vote was taken by AHBIC delegates and it is pleasing to report that we have advised the Melbourne Convention and Visitors Bureau that Australia would support a bid for Apimondia 2007.

7. National Disease Programme

The issue of the development of a national disease programme was discussed. It was particularly relevant that in the biosecurity agreement industry required by Animal Health Australia and also increasing concerns about the level of AFB infestation in the various States. It was resolved that AHBIC work towards the development of a national programme.

8. Generic Promotional Material

Discussion occurred on promotions at the various agricultural shows and what material could be made available to the various State associations. In this regard AHBIC, prior to Christmas, circularised the States with a number of options which were possible in relatioon to generic material. AHBIC is seeking feedback from the member bodies.

9. B-Qual Meeting

B-Qual continues its development and further information will shortly be available for release to industry. Suffice to say the initial training of auditors will be held in Brisbane 10th to 12th March 2002.

10. Next Meeting

The next meeting of the AHBIC Executive will be held in Brisbane on Friday 15th March 2002.


Crop Report – South Australia

West Coast - (Upper) Red Mallee is producing slowly in some areas when the weather is favourable, although it has not been a consistent budding. Ti-tree is budding and could be a reasonable prospect. Many varieties of mallee are growing and should bud for later this year and next year. (Lower) - sugar gum is beginning to flower and there is up to a medium budding of TiTree.

Northern - (Upper) There has been less than average production to date, with mostly ground floras. Red gum is yielding some honey now that the weather has settled down recently and warming up but about 50% of flower has gone. Prospects for patchy mallee.
(Lower) Extremely disappointing season, due to cool, damp conditions which has only changed to more seasonal conditions lately. The result has been very poor honey production and breeding conditions to date, with hive strength effected. Not a big red gum area; the flowering is very late and starting to yield, which could prove a useful breeding flow. Some pockets of lucerne yielded. Ti Tree prospects could be questionable, as the budding is patchy.

Riverland - Euc. socialis and red gum very late flowering - over four weeks - need warmer weather. Some breeding conditions but no honey flow. Some areas showing good prospects for next year, would need one good rain soon.

Central - The river red gum in the Adelaide Hills is yielding on warm days. Various mallees are flowering and yielding, however most hives have been moved to the lucerne in the South East, which is yielding well.

Barossa - Patchy budding of the River red gum is very late in starting to flower, has started to yield but imperative that settled, non-stormy weather conditions prevail.

Kangaroo Island - Western Kangaroo Island mallee ash flowered recently and now the sugar gum is showing promise.

South East - With at last a run of fine weather, good lucerne honey yields are being experienced at the moment, both on dryland and on irrigation. This should continue through to mid and late February if the weather stays fine. Future prospects after lucerne are not that good; there may be pockets of potato weed or Ti Tree worth going to if it rains.

Kay Lambert

Crop Report – Tasmania

Tasmania is experiencing a very difficult honey season. The summer has been almost non existent with just three to four days the bees have been able to work. Many beekeepers have had to continue the feeding regime into January in order to keep the hives alive.

Flowering periods for ground flora and leatherwood have also been retarded up to three to four weeks which may yet give some hope for honey production. Everything depends on good weather conditions for the next two months as the hives are moved from home bases (ground flora sites) to the West Coast for leatherwood which at the moment is slow (three weeks late) to flower.

Stocks of honey are extremely low.

Tasmanian beekeepers express their sympathy to our New South Wales colleagues in hive losses and resources destroyed in the recent tragic bushfires.

Shirley Stephens

Crop and Stock Report – New South Wales

Very little to report on honey flows at present. Yellow box on the tablelands has been yielding quite well and river gum in the south did yield in some places but not a major flow by any means.

The prospects for the remainder of the season seem to be next to nil and, at this stage, prospects for next season are no looking at all good.

Honey is still in very short supply and at this time of the year this does not look good for winter supplies. I have been told that some pre-packs are coming in from the United States of America.

Eddie Podmore

Quarantine Report


On ABC TV on Sunday night 3 February, 2002 at 7.30pm, there is a one-hour documentary starring the Northern Australian Quarantine Strategy.

From the ABC website “Never before told in a television documentary, the quarantine story of the top end is a revealing insight into the environment and culture of this unique frontier wilderness and its people. In the light of recent overseas disease outbreaks, it is a story of vital importance to every Australian.” Website

Tune in. You may see some familiar faces such as Pedro Stephen, Jackson Sailor or Ron Enosa.

State based training

I reported that Victoria was to carry out their training in November. It did not proceed in November and is scheduled for this year.

In December, we had a very successful training day in Darwin. We had 21 present with people from industry, Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries (DPI&F) in the Northern Territory and Australian Quarantine and Inspection (AQIS) staff based in the Northern Territory. One outcome of the day was that DPI&F now know that they have people trained for responses to any outbreak from Darwin down to Alice Springs.

Apis cerana in Melbourne

As has been previously reported, there was a nest of Apis cerana found on a container that arrived in Melbourne from Lae in Papua New Guinea. Seems they were a little early for Apimondia.

There were mites on the bees that were tentatively identified as Varroa jacobsoni. The bees in the nest were successfully destroyed and samples sent off to Dr. Denis Anderson in Canberra for identification.

Positive identification of the bees and mites has just been received from Dr. Denis Anderson. The bees were confirmed as A. cerana Java strain and the mites were V. jacobsoni Java strain. This information would confirm that there is no apparent threat to our industry.

Congratulations to Glynn Maynard and her crew in Melbourne for a job well done. A full report on the incident will be available through AHBIC shortly.

Trevor Weatherhead

Crop Report – Victoria

The good news from Victoria is that river red gum, held back for so long by the coldest late spring/early summer weather on record, began to yield as soon as some warmer and more stable weather occurred in the New Year.

Reports from all regions indicate that the crop will finish up reaching about 50% of its original potential. In many cases, hives were so far short of stores when moved to sites, they took a long time to consolidate and begin to store a harvestable surplus. Best guesses of experienced beekeepers are that the crop will finally come in at around 28kg per hive.

With the exception of Gippsland, which has been blessed with adequate rainfall this season, the rest of the year looks to be something of a lottery in terms of honey production. Acorn and oil mallee have commenced flowering, including north of the Murray River in southern New South Wales, and are yielding a little. Apiaries working these species following the red gum will need to be managed carefully to avoid stresses arising from extreme heat and available water. Black box does not appear to be offering any substantial prospects. Yellow mallee a little later is something of a prospect but is not expected to yield unless the region receives some rain.

Through central Victoria, grey box has not budded will enough to be a prospect. Other species budding are patchy, the best being some late yellow box which is reported to be yielding, some blue gum and messmate. In north east Victoria, the foothill country will not produce a honey crop. The dry conditions over a long period have taken their toll and the few eucalypt species that did set some bud last season have since shed most of it.

Gippsland is the only region within the state which looks like producing an average or better crop for the season. Currently, coastal banksia is yielding well and yellow stringybark is yielding modestly. The cold, windy and wet spring and summer prevented the white clover prospect from reaching its potential. Strawberry clover remains a modest prospect, but in recent years it has been unreliable. Iron bark and bloodwood are prospects for the autumn.

Over much of the state, beekeepers will need to be careful about leaving enough honey on their hives to get them through the rest of the summer and winter. The months ahead look to be a difficult time, a situation compounded by the dry conditions that appear to have affected the budding of species for flowerings next season.

Overall, Victoria’s honey crop this season, even at this early stage of assessment, looks like coming in well below average.

Linton Briggs