July 2000

Honey  - Australia's Liquid Gold


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The Honey News Archives


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 Rain Forest Honey
Australian Honey Bee Improvement Programme
Australian Sungold Queen Bees
Beeline Queens
Capilano Honey Limited
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


AHBIC Annual General Meeting

The Annual General Meeting of the Australian Honey Bee Industry Council was held in Southport, Queensland on 10th and 11th July 2000. The meeting was informative and allowed industry members to provide direction for AHBIC in the coming year. Presentations during the two days included a report from the Honey Bee Research and Development Committee with Mr Keith McIlvride providing an overview to delegates of ongoing research and Dr Jeff Davis provided an indication of the administration costs of the honey programme since 1995/6.

A report was also given on the importance of quality assurance/food safety by representatives of the Department of New South Wales Agriculture. The need for the industry to develop an effective QA programme was highlighted and this, with the requirement by the Australia New Zealand Food Authority (ANZFA) that food safety plans be implemented, means that it is important for the honey bee industry to build on the work that has already been done in order that the industry can continue to have market access for its product both for the domestic and overseas markets.

Mr Robert Hedlefs from the Queensland Department of Primary Industry addressed the meeting on the importance of North Watch which consists of five important elements:-

  • Pest and disease surveillance
  • Market access certification control
  • Emergency response planning
  • Agrifood safety
  • Research and innovation
Mr Roly Nieper addressed delegates, outlining the role of Animal Health Australia (AHA). He highlighted the work that was being done by AHA to develop an appropriate cost sharing agreement on which both government and industry could agree in respect of disease outbreaks and incursions.

A large number of resolutions and reports were received from AHBIC delegates and sector secretaries.

The AHBIC Annual General Meeting is also the venue for the election of office bearers for the coming year. We are pleased to announce the following people have been elected to serve on the AHBIC Executive Committee and other Sub Committees for the 2000/1year.
Chairman Mr Laurie Dewar
Deputy Chairman Mr Eduard Planken
Executive Committee FCAAA Mr Harold Ayton

AQBBA Mr Col Wilson

HPMAA Mr Lloyd Smith

NCPA Mr Bob McDonald


  Chairperson Members
Quarantine Laurie Dewar State Readiness Team Chairmen
Food Safety and Quality Assurance Eduard Planken Shirley Stephens

Rod Pavy

Geoff Smith

Bill Weiss

Paula Dewar

K. Gell

Education Shirley Stephens  
Resource Bob McDonald All State Resource Chairmen
AHBIC Review  Carolyn Tanner – Consultant 

University of Sydney

Bob McDonald

Col Wilson

Eduard Planken

Winston Lamb

Disease Laurie Dewar Eduard Planken

Trevor Weatherhead

Harold Ayton

Lloyd Smith

Ray Phillips


AHBIC would also like to put on record its thanks to Mr Ray Phillips, the outgoing Chairman of the Federal Council of Australian Apiarists’ Associations (FCAAA) and member of the AHBIC Executive who declined to stand for election this year. Mr Trevor Weatherhead, the outgoing Chairman of the Quarantine Committee, elected not to be reappointed to the position. AHBIC would like to express its thanks for his efforts during the past twelve months.

Goodacre Memorial Award

It is pleasing to report that Mr Don Keith, AM was awarded the Goodacre Memorial Award at the Queensland Beekeepers Association (QBA) annual conference. Congratulations to Keith on his award and to his wife Lorice who has supported Don during his long involvement with the Queensland Beekeepers’ Association and the wider honey bee industry.

It is also pleasing to report that, on the night of the QBA dinner, both Laurie and Paula Dewar were made Life Members of the Association.

AHBIC Review

The review of AHBIC is now well under way with Ms Carolyn Tanner from University of Sydney being appointed to undertake the review. Included with this monthly report is a discussion paper and survey which has been sent to state and sector secretaries for distribution to members of the industry in order that a response can be obtained on a number of issues which may affect the industry.

Click here for the discussion paper and survey form.

The process of undertaking a survey of members is part of the review and anyone with an interest in the industry should take the time to complete this survey. The survey itself is the only means by which the review will be conducted but is one mechanism where information can be gained from the industry participants. In order to assist in the completion of the survey, a discussion paper is also attached so that members are made fully aware of the actions of AHBIC, the mechanisms under which AHBIC is conducted and extracts of the Constitution. Please take the time to complete this survey and return it to the AHBIC office.

Varroa in New Zealand

The following extract has been distributed by MAF in relation to an update on what is happening in relation to varroa in New Zealand. The press release has been copied in full in order that members of industry can be aware of events.

NZ Varroa - Government accepts 3 stage management plan

The Government has ruled out attempting to eradicate the Varroa bee mite and has opted for a government-assisted management programme the Minister of Agriculture Jim Sutton and the Minister for Biosecurity, Marian Hobbs, announced today. "We considered carefully the views of the beekeeping and other primary sector industries and also of the independent technical group," the Ministers said. "In the end we accepted that the chances of successfully eradicating the Varroa mite were minimal. A failed eradication attempt would weaken beekeeping and pollination-dependent industries and jeopardise long-term management. "Therefore Cabinet has agreed in principle to work with the industry in a three-stage management plan. We are committed to achieving containment and minimising the impact of the mite. 

The Ministry of Agriculture and Foresty has been directed to work with industry to finalise an operational plan and to report back to the Government by mid-September. The Ministry of Social Policy and MAF will also, in consultation with the beekeeping industry, review the need for rural sector income support measures.

The Ministers said the Cabinet had rejected with the greatest reluctance the option of attempting the total eradication of the bee mite. "At an estimated cost of $55 million, money was not a factor but all our advice considered the chances of success were low. Eradication would require the depopulation of all managed and feral bees over at least 5000 square kilometres including rugged terrain from the central North Island to Hokianga. Our advice is that there will be further sites of infestation not yet detected "Long-term management uses chemicals to kill varroa mites in managed hives while leaving the bees in those hives healthy. The Government has approved initial expenditure of almost $1.3 million for the management plan which has three stages:

Immediate control (over the next 10 weeks). Beekeepers from all infested apiaries and apiaries within a five kilometre radius of an infested apiary, will be offered free treatment of hives with a registered chemical.

Interim control, (a two-year Government supported management programme which is likely to include financial assistance and support). The aim is to keep the South Island free of varroa for as long as possible and to reduce the effects of the mite in the North Island. A draft operational plan is with the industry for comment.

Long term control, beyond two years. An agreed long-term management plan under the Biosecurity Act. Infestations are prevalent and heavy around Auckland, Pukekohe and Hauraki Plains as a result of natural spread. Beekeeping activity has spread varroa to several outlying sites including Helensville, Te Puke and Hokianga and to single sites at Te Awamutu, Otorohanga and National Park. Feral bees are also known to be infected. A total of 3022 apiaries containing 58,163 hives were inspected. The survey detected 248 infected apiaries, containing 4060 hives, owned by 132 beekeepers.

The above information highlights the need for the Australian industry to ensure that varroa is not allowed into Australia.

Industry Readiness Teams to be Established

On Sunday 9th July 2000, a meeting was held of industry members and state and federal departmental representatives to discuss the honey bee industry incursion management planning and ways in which Australia can seek to ensure that pests and diseases were eliminated from our shores. A large number of recommendations came from this workshop and congratulations go to all those who participated in the active discussions on the various issues.

One of the important decisions made at the meeting was the need for industry to establish response teams in each state for incursion management. In this regard state associations of the FCAAA were asked to provide a list of ten names for inclusion in the Readiness Plan which is being prepared. Those who have a genuine interest in assisting the industry to prevent the introduction of pests and diseases should feel free to volunteer their services to assist industry in this regard. Further details will shortly be sent to state secretaries of the FCAAA.

Plant Health Australia

AHBIC has become an associate member of Plant Health Australia (PHA) with its first strategic planning workshop being scheduled for 29th August, 2000 in Brisbane.

AHBIC will be participating in this workshop given the importance of the beekeeping industry to plant industries and the need to establish a mechanism for the shared costs of incursion and disease management.

Monthly Newsletters By Email

It has been suggested that industry participants may wish to receive the monthly newsletter by email rather than by post. If you would prefer this method of delivery, please complete the details below and return to AHBIC as soon as possible.

Name/Company: ……………………………………………………………………

Postal Address: …………………………………………………………………...



Email address: …………………………………………………………………….

Food Safety Reforms

Readers will note from a previous article that AHBIC is in the process of pursuing quality assurance and a food safety plan for the industry. It is important to note that this process is not being undertaken in isolation and the development of the AHBIC quality assurance programme will involve not only Department of Agriculture New South Wales, Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS) but has also hailed the ongoing process of food reform which is being conducted by ANZFA. Following is a brief outline of the proposed reforms:-
What are the reforms?

ANZFA is now finalising a national approach to food safety to ensure that food safety requirements are consistent across Australia. Currently food safety laws differ in each State and Territory. The food Safety Reforms have three major components:

  • Four national food safety standards;
  • Nationally consistent State and Territory Food Acts; and
  • Supporting projects to assist businesses and government to implement the reforms
  1. Four national food safety standards
The four proposed standards are:
      1. Interpretation and Application
      1. Food Safety Programs
      2. Food Safety Practices and General Requirements
      3. Food Premises and Equipment
Three of the above Standards, 3.1.1, 3.2.2 and 3.2.3 will be presented to Health Ministers on 28 July 2000 for formal adoption into the Food Standards Code. If Health Ministers agree to adopt these Standards, they are expected to become law across Australia by February 2001. This will allow time for both food businesses and enforcement agencies to become familiar with the new Standards. Revised drafts of these three Standards are available from ANZFA’s website and are also included at the back of the guideline to the 
Standards (see following for further information on the guideline).

Standard 3.2.1 – Food Safety Programs will not be presented to Health Ministers at the July meeting. The commonwealth Department of Health and Aged Care is currently coordinating further studies to asses the efficacy and costs of food safety programs in a range of food businesses. The study will be conducted over a 12 month period. The final report will include recommendations on best practice and ways of reducing costs incurred by business.

2. Nationally consistent State and Territory Food Acts

ANZFA commenced a review of State and Territory Food Acts in March 1997 in order to develop nationally consistent Food Acts. A Food Act sets out the offences and defences relating to food and will include for example, an offence for persons who do not comply with the Food Standards Code. It also provides powers for enforcement offices.

A draft national Food Bill has been developed and is currently being considered by Senior Officials within State and Territory Governments. Following this consideration, State and Territory governments will be asked to sign an agreement to modify or replace their existing Food Acts to ensure they are consistent with the draft national Food Bill. This is expected to occur before the end of the year.

3. Supporting projects

Guideline to the Food Safety Standards

ANZFA has completed a guideline to explain the intent behind the requirements within Standards 3.1.1, 3.2.2 and 3.2.3. The guideline has been written primarily for food businesses and for government agencies responsible for the enforcement of the Standards. If there is uncertainty as to what a requirement means, reference can be made to the guideline for clarification. For example, the guideline explains what is meant by requiring stored food to be protected from contamination. The guideline also includes a copy of the Standards.

The first edition of the guideline will be available for comment from 31 July 2000 until 31 August 2000. The guideline will be amended in light of comments received and a second edition is expected to be available in November 2000. Copies of the guideline are available from ANZFA upon request.

Priority classification for food businesses

ANZFA, in conjunction with Food Science Australia, has developed a risk-based system to be used for the classification of food businesses. The system, developed in consultation with ANZFA stakeholders, is designed to classify the food businesses into priority ratings based on the food safety risks associated with the type of business. Those State and Territory governments that require food businesses to have a food safety program can use the classification system to determine an implementation timetable for food safety programs and the initial frequency of audit.

The information required to allocate businesses with appropriate classifications will be collected through the notification process (see below). The information paper The Priority Classification System for food businesses is on the ANZFA website under '‘Publications'’ in the food safety section.

A system for food business notification

All food businesses, other than those in primary industry, will be required to notify the relevant authority of their existence. The notification will inform the relevant authority of the location and nature of the business and will be used to decide on a priority classification for the business. This requirement will not apply to those businesses required to register as a food business under the Food Act or any other law listed in the regulations under the Food Act.

A food safety audit system

ANZFA has developed a system for auditing food safety programs. The system includes auditor approval criteria, audit frequency and duration and audit management. The audit system is discussed in detail in a document that will be available to stakeholders in the next few months. ANZFA is also preparing a guidance document for government auditors. Details on how to obtain these documents will be posted on the ANZFA website when they become available.

Need more information?

For further information on the food safety reforms, please phone (02) 6271 2224 or email: food.safety@anzfa.gov.au

ANZFA’s website is www.anzfa.gov.au

In respect of the Victorian Food Safety Plan, correspondence has been received from Ellen Kitson, Executive Officer of Food Safety Victoria, advising that the implementation has been deferred until 1 January 2002. AHBIC continues to work towards a coordinated national food safety plan being put into place and we believe that this will not only satisfy individual states but will be later endorsed by ANZFA as the national honey food safety plan.

Conference Diary

Following is a schedule of proposed dates for conferences for the coming year. Please make note of these for your diary plans.

FCAAA Queensland Beekeepers Association 28-29 June 2001

Sunshine Coast

  New South Wales Apiarists Association 31 May-1 June 2001

Port Macquarie

  Tasmanian Beekeepers Association 6-7 July 2001


  Western Australian Farmers Federation- Beekeeping Section 8-9 June 2001
  South Australian Apiarists Association 21-22 June 2001
  Victorian Apiarists Association 14-15 June 2001

Central Region

Honey Packers and Marketers Association September 2000
National Council of Pollination Associations To be advised
Australian Queen Bee Breeders Association May/June 2001
Australian Honey Bee Industry Council 9-10 July 2001



Crop Report – New South Wales

Very little or no honey is being produced at present. Napunyah has not produced honey in any volume and the prospect of a good crop looks slim. As stated earlier, there are some good patches of yellow box budded in the Central West and also the South West. Very little white box has budded and there is still some patches of mugga to flower in the spring but in general there is very little on offer.

Stock Report – New South Wales

Honey is not plentiful in some parts of the state with most beekeepers not holding any honey. Some packers are reported to be running low on supplies and might find it hard to obtain honey before the new season starts.

Eddie Podmore

Crop Report – Tasmania

There is very little change since the last report although good winter rains throughout the state may improve conditions. Hives returning from the west coast are in good condition.

Shirley Stephens

Honey Stocks and International Markets

Eastern States

Stocks are generally low in beekeepers’ hands in most states especially in Northern New South Wales and Queensland. Crop prospects pre January 2001 are not looking too bright after which prospects are better.

Stock with packers is average or below which should retain market stability well into the 2000/01 season. Good domestic sales with the cold winter combined with reasonable overseas demand should ensure a good sales period for most packers.

World prices on a C&F basis are listed below, however recent preferential import duty into Europe for some countries’ honey such as Mexico and Eastern Europe is again disadvantaging other exporting countries such as Argentina and Australia.

* Argentine US$1050 cfr

* China US$670-730 cfr

* Mexico US$980- 1020 cfr 

* Uruguay US$1060-1080 cfr

* Cuba US$1050-1100 cfr

* Vietnam US$ 820- 880 cfr

Lloyd Smith

Crop Report – South Australia

Apiarists from most regions in the state are well into preparations for moving bees into almond growing areas to start their pollination contracts.

Plans for the expected severe locust problem in spring are ongoing.

West Coast – Upper: Euc.diversifolia is yielding surprisingly well during the cool weather and, as it is still carrying quite a lot of bud, this should continue until spring. Prospects for late spring/early summer for black mallee, which is budded reasonably well. Some canola in early spring should assist with hive build up. Bees are in good condition for this time of year due to a number of flowering ground floras.

West Coast – Lower: Euc.diversifolia flowering, yielding honey and pollen. Although there has been heavy rain, there has been bee flight weather in between wet periods. Ground floras are starting to flower.

Riverland: Almonds starting to break.

Northern – Lower: Good rains have continued which augur well for spring prospects but follow-up rains necessary

Northern – Upper: There is reasonable budding on blue gum for spring prospects, but much of this could finish flowering before warmer periods of spring. There has been sufficient rain for ground flora development but these may be of limited use because of the expected locust infestations.

Kay Lambert

Crop Report And Stock Position - Queensland

Honey producers working the Channel Country have expressed general disappointment with this years Yapunyah crop. It appears that some loads have been producing surplus honey but most have failed to yield a surplus. The main problem appears to be lack of pollen for breeding conditions. Heavy frosts have bitten off the pollen producing plants.

Reports of hive movements away from the channels to Canola crops have been increasing in their frequency. Strong hives will remain on sites waiting for warmer weather and expected honey yields.

Other prospects include patchy areas of Bimble Box, Black Box and Narrow, for later in the season there are patches of Hill Gum. The season is expected to only trickle along up until the end of December with improved crop potential for the new year.

The Channel Country has had excellent rains this year, which may well set up the next season.

Honey stocks are low and will remain so for the next six months.

Bill Winner

Crop Report – Western Australia

Western Australia has had heavy rains over the last month. In general terms the bees have wintered well and Spring prospects are for an early start to the crop. In Western Australia’s northern regions, the longer term feeling is that it may be a shorter spring and the following crop prospects are for the beekeepers to move to the goldfields area. Overall predictions are for a lower production year compared with last season. It is too early to give any accurate indication on how the season will progress beyond the Christmas/New Year period.

Crop Report – Victoria

Good soaking rains throughout June and July have occurred over much of Victoria except Western districts where below average rainfall still persists, and beekeepers there are beginning to worry about prospects for next season in this region. An indication of how dry it is in this region can be seen by the water level in the Rocklands Reservoir where the level is at less than 5% of capacity.

The further east in the state you travel, the better the rains have been. Ground water levels have started to build up, and surface run off is beginning to occur after rain. Hume Reservoir and Dartmouth Dam are filling and are now at water levels close to 60% of capacity.

If the rains continue for the rest of the winter, including the North West mallee country, spring ground flora prospects should be good. Although it is still too early to predict with confidence the extent of crops, honey will be produced throughout the season. The best guess may be for an average season.

The first migration of the season has commenced with bees being moved on the Riverland almond orchards for pollination.

Linton Briggs

Dates for Publication of Newsletter

Please note the deadline for receipt of material for the monthly newsletter is the 20th day of each month with the publication being mailed by the 25th day of each month. It is important that contributors note these new dates. It is hoped that this new system will assist industry journals in the provision of information contained in the AHBIC newsletter on a more timely basis.

Industry Video

AHBIC now has available the industry video. Two versions are available – one which runs for 45 minutes and another which is a teaching video consisting of 13 segments. These videos are available at a cost of $27.50 (Incl GST) each from the AHBIC office.