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June 2000

Honey  - Australia's Liquid Gold

All rights reserved This publication is copyright 
The Honey News Archives
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 Rain Forest Honey
Australian Honey Bee Improvement Programme
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

The AHBIC Conference and Annual General Meeting will be held at the Park Regis Hotel, Southport, Queensland on 10th and 11th July, 2000.  Delegates will need to make their own arrangements for accommodation by calling 1800 644 851.  A group booking has been made and it should be mentioned when booking that the accommodation will be for attendance at the Australian Honey Bee Industry Council Conference.

There will be a de-briefing concerning the recent Asian bee incursions on Sunday 9th July

The Conference this year will be hosted by Queensland Beekeepers Association (QBA) whose Annual Conference will be held on 6th - 8th July 2000 at Southport RSL.  Anyone interested in attending this Conference, please make contact with Bob Johnson (Ph: 07 5445 7512 Fax: 07 5478 6880) for further details.

Industry Video

The industry video is now available for sale at a cost of $25.00 (plus GST after 30th June).  Please contact the AHBIC office to order your copy.

Honeybee Research & Development Committee (HBRDC)

Recently the AHBIC Executive reviewed the applicants for the HBRDC and nominated three names for the new term from 1 July 2000 to 30 June 2003.  These nominations were duly accepted and the new Committee is as follows:

  Chairperson    PO Box 5
Mr Keith McIlvride   THIRLMERE  NSW  2572 
     Ph: 02 4681 8556
     Fax: 02 4683 1325
     Email: keithm@mania.com.au

Mrs Rosemary Doherty  Yalbark Apiaries
     PO Box 307
     MUDGEE   NSW   2850
     Ph: 02 6372 1733
     Fax: 02 6372 1733

Mr Michael Moncur   19 Sherwin Place
     MELBA   ACT   2615
     Ph: 02 6258 3388
     Email: moncur@cyberone.com.au

Mr Des Cannon   Bilga Honey Supplies
     79 Naylor Road
     URILA via QUEANBEYAN  NSW  2620

Research Manager   Rural Industries R & D Corporation
Dr Jeff Davis    PO Box 4776
     KINGSTON   ACT   2604
     Ph: 02 6272 4152
     Fax: 02 6272 5877
     Email: jeffd@rirdc.gov.au

AHBIC thanks all those who applied for a position on the Committee and we wish the new Committee well for the coming term.

AHBIC to Provide Submission on Fire Blight

The Australian Quarantine Inspection Service (AQIS) will shortly release a Draft Report Risk Assessment followed by a 60 day period of public comment in respect of an application from New Zealand to export apples into Australia.

AQIS will then make its judgement followed by a 30 day appeal period before the final decision is made.

The danger of Fire Blight entering Australia and being spread by the honeybee industry is particularly relevant to Australian industry as the spoors of the Fire Blight are very similar to pollen and are easily spread by bees in the pollination process.

Industry is particularly keen to support the Australian apple and pear industry in urging that Australia does not take the risk in potentially importing this disease from New Zealand.

Members of industry should be aware that if they wish to obtain information on this, or any other subject dealing with quarantine, they may register as a stakeholder with the Import Risk Analysis Secretariat, Plant Quarantine Policy Branch, Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service, GPO Box 858, Canberra   ACT   2601, telephone (02) 6272 5094, fax (02) 6272 3307, email plantquar@aqis.gov.au.

AHBIC’s submission will be made available to industry once it has been completed.

Genetic Material Labelling to be Reviewed

The issue of genetic material (GM) labelling continues to be controversial with the decision by Australian New Zealand Health Minister expected by the end of July, 2000.

In the face of persistent lobbying by industry, it is understood that the Prime Minister has written to state, territory and New Zealand governments recommending they exempt GM labelling in foods where GM ingredients comprise less than 1% concentration and in certain other instances including food prepared at point of sale.

Democratic Changes to Increase Wealth?

As the bulk of honey is consumed by persons under 30 years of age, the following forecasts of population growth have important ramifications for the honey industry.

The Australian population is forecast to increase by 23% between 1996 and 2021 but the wealthier groups by more than that:

The number aged 55 and over (who are at the peak of their career, or whose children have left home, or who have received a lump sum on retirement or have sold the family home) will increase by over 80%.
The number of couple families without children (who are either young and both working or whose children have left the family home) will increase by 60%.

While the number of persons aged 24 to 35 will only increase by 4.5%, the number of that age who are married with no children (probably both working) will increase by 22%.

Retirees make up 15% of the population but own 28% of total private wealth.  Their numbers are increasing more rapidly than the total population numbers, and the superannuation guarantee levy will increase their asset holdings.

The baby boom cohort (those 40 to 55) make up 21% of the population but own 37% of total private assets.  The wealthiest 20% of these own 50% of the assets of the cohort.

Forecast Population growth (%) between 1998 and the years shown:

All Ages

ABS middle assumption projections (Series 11) show no growth in the 0-19  age group in the next 40 years, negligible growth in the 20-44 group, average growth (i.e. similar to the total population) in the 45-54 group, and rapid growth in the numbers 55 and over.

The total population has grown by an average 1.9%pa over the past 20 years, by 1.6% in 1998/99 and growth is expected to fall steadily to 0.4%pa by 2015/16.

Population growth between 1998 and 2016 is estimated to be 3 million (or 16%) with 94% of the extra 3 million being 45 and over.

Many of the elderly are in good health.  For both males and females, a higher proportion of people 75 and over never visit a doctor in a year than those under 75.

Position Paper on AHBIC

In accordance with Articles 23.1 and 23.2 of the Constitution, it was agreed when AHBIC was established that a review would be conducted after two years of operation.  The relevant sections of the Constitution consist of:-

23. Review Process

  • 23.1 Within ninety days following the second Annual Report of AHBIC Executive Committee a comprehensive review and assessment of the AHBIC structure and operating performance shall be undertaken to determine and recommend to member bodies changes required to improve performance.
  • 23.2 A committee of four members of AHBIC, one from each member body and one or more independent persons with corporate experience shall be appointed to undertake the review.

In recognition of the above sections, Ms Carolyn Tanner of the University of Sydney has been appointed to undertake the AHBIC Review.  Ms Tanner is Senior Lecturer in Agricultural Economics at the University of Sydney and has previously conducted both industry and government reviews, one of the better known being her participation in the Committee which reviewed the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service.

Following discussion with industry, the following Terms of Reference have been agreed upon with Ms Tanner.

1 To review AHBIC’s:
(a) Corporate structure and management;
(b) Relationship with member bodies;
(c) Relationship with Federal and State Departments and instrumentalities; and
(d) Voluntary funding base.

 If necessary, develop proposed amendments to AHBIC’s Constitution.
2 To determine industry members’ views on:
(a) AHBIC’s membership of the Australian Animal Health Council and the Australian Plant Health Council (including the need for a statutory AAHC levy);
(b) AHBIC’s promotional strategy;
(c) AHBIC’s communication strategy for both sector and non-sector organisations; and
(d) AHBIC’s educational strategy.

Following discussions with Ms Tanner a discussion paper and questionnaire will be shortly released to wider industry for input and comment.  AHBIC would encourage all members of industry to obtain a copy of this questionnaire and provide comment in respect of your peak body.

Quality Assurance System

Following ongoing discussions between NSW Agriculture and the Executive Committee of AHBIC, the Annual General Meeting on July 10 and 11 will be asked to ratify the standards for the quality assurance programme for industry.

Under the NSW Agriculture proposal for Stage 1, the following programme is expected to begin:-

  • Standards to be developed from existing Codes of Practice into QA format
  • Primary response will be to food safety issues but will also include sections on AFB/EFB control, and standards for crop pollination and queen bee breeders
  • NSW Agriculture presentation of standards to industry to be conducted by one person with QA skills and one with apiary skills.  This will ensure credibility in both areas.
  • NSW Agriculture propose a meeting with key industry and government personnel to gain acceptance of standards and a national approach to the overall project.
  • All states and sectors of industry need to be comfortable that all standards are attainable and practical.
In addition, following discussions with the AHBIC Executive, the QA programme is also to be expanded to formulate organic honey standards.

Following representations by AHBIC in Canberra, industry will shortly be making applications for training in the QA system under the Federal Government’s FarmBis Programme.  During the next twelve months we hope to see a wide acceptance by industry of quality assurance.

Goods and Services Tax (GST)

Beekeepers and members of industry are again reminded that 1st July 2000 sees the commencement of not only the Goods and Services Tax (GST) but also the introduction of a large number of changes to the existing taxation system.

This is a new tax system and, despite AHBIC and other people’s attempts to provide explanations, it really is necessary for individuals to discuss with their accountant/tax advisor and/or other advisors, the way in which the new system will affect their individual enterprise.

AHBIC would urge all members of industry not to simply ignore the new system but to quickly come to grips with how these changes will affect your individual business.

New Office Bearers

As members of industry will know, most State associations have now completed their Annual General Meetings and many new office bearers for the coming year are now in place.  AHBIC thanks those who are retiring from the positions as elected office bearers and we thank them for their contributions to the industry to date.  AHBIC hopes that these dedicated individuals will continue to participate in the industry. Our very best wishes go to the incoming members for the new term.

As new office bearers are notified to the AHBIC office we will send a comprehensive listing of the new committees to all member bodies.

Genetic Manipulation Advisory Committee (GMAC)

AHBIC, and no doubt a number of members of industry, has seen recent press articles relating to a study by a German zoologist reporting that genes from canola can transfer to bacterium yeast in the gut of honey bees.  This article has been published despite the fact that the findings have not yet been published in any scientific journal.

Regardless of this, AHBIC referred the press clippings to the GMAC for their response.  We are please to report that GMAC has indicated that the report has been drawn to the attention of the members of the scientific and release sub-committees of GMAC for consideration at their next meeting. 

Following these meetings, and once the particular research has been finally released, the findings on this matter will be reported to wider industry.

Honey as Medicine

Scientific evidence suggests that honey may be used in the future as a natural anti-bacterial agent in the treatment of open wounds.
University of Sydney microbiologist Shona Blair discovered honey’s medicinal qualities while doing research under a Rural Industry Research and Development Corporation grant. 
“I’ve tested one particular honey,” Blair says, “called jelly bush, from one species of leptospermum, and especially from north-eastern NSW, against golden staph (Staphlococcus aureus), a particularly hardy organism and a big problem in hospitals as it is developing multiple resistance (to a range of drugs).
“Bacteria can’t grow on pure undiluted honey because of its high sugar content (which is why a jar of honey left forgotten in a cupboard won’t go off).  But it’s not just the sugars that are responsible for the antibacterial activity I’ve observed.  A very dilute sample of jelly bush (less than 10 per cent honey) will kill golden staph.  If I test with artificial honey, much higher concentrations (above 25 per cent) are needed to inhibit the bugs.  The work is still in progress, but the way it appears now. This particular honey is a good anti-bacterial agent.”

Source:  Sydney Morning Herald, Good Living, June 20-26 2000


Crop Report - South Australia

Strategies are being developed to assist industry in the event of the expected serious locust plague in spring, possibly the worst in recorded history.

South East - Banksia is yielding in very small patches;  the majority of the banksia not yielding at all, possibly because the nectar is too thin.  Pollen is scarce.  Some beekeepers are supplementary feeding in readiness for almond pollination.

West Coast - Upper:  Euc.diversifolia yielding quite well during the warmer days.  More rain is needed to ensure spring prospects.

West Coast - Lower:  Good rains through most of the area, resulting Euc.diversifoloa producing copious amounts of nectar and pollen.

Riverland - A light budding is left on the white mallee, ground flora well advanced but needs rain.  The onion weed is affected with a virus.

Central - Any bees left in the area are hibernating.  It is anticipated that there will be an increase in pollination requirements.

Northern - Lower:  White mallee is patchy and proved disappointing.  Bees settled for winter.  Euc.diversifolia starting to break.  Good rains augur well for spring prospects but follow up rains are necessary.

Northern - Upper:  Bees are hibernating and in winter mode.  Some bees from this are on Euc.diversifolia on the West Coast.

Kay Lambert

Crop Report - New South Wales

Very little change in prospects for next season with some yellow box in the central west and the south west budding in patches.  Stringy bark is well budded in both the central and south west.  Napungah is not well budded and, in most cases, what is budded is very late

Stock Report - New South Wales

No honey, or very little, is being held by beekeepers in the north of the state with some in the south holding small amounts.

Eddie Podmore

World Honey Scene

International Bulk Honey - The southern hemisphere crops have now all finished. Generally crops were average or slightly less than in the previous year. Expectations in the Northern hemisphere are for varying results for the current crop.

International prices on bulk honey are being pressured downwards due to the currency changes in Europe and low demand for this time of the year. The forward forecast is that prices will remain soft in the short term. Most international exporters report a desire to see prices strengthen on bulk honey.

Retail Packaged Honey - In general terms there is a continuation of new packers appearing in overseas markets as they try to obtain a better return  for the product than putting it in a bulk drum. The usual reaction is to offer low prices to gain a market entry which disrupts established competition and fractures the already weak market. Real value adding of product is not taking place in the main and a lot of "copy" products proliferate world markets.

The polarisation of large supermarket groups around the world are also causing packers to be played off against one and another particularly in markets where any honey sales volume is higher than in Australia. Dramatic price differences are common between some countries and other Australian packers. It becomes increasingly difficult for smaller players to survive in the longer term.

Ed Planken

Crop Report - Tasmania

A very successful annual meeting was held at Ulverstone.  Stephen Ware, Executive Director, presented the AHBIC Report and Bruce White, Rosemary and Erwin Doherty were our other mainland guests.

Until the week beginning June 19th, the weather has remained very dry.  Rain is now falling and it feels like the beginning of winter.  Some hives are light and will need early feed particularly those which gathered a little white top at the finish.  Many hives are being returned from the west coast to spring/summer locations.  Good warm weather to date is prompting signs of early flowering.

Most of Tasmanian honey is now in the hands of packers and very little was sold in bulk overseas.  Beeswax was also cleared to overseas buyers.

Local sales picked up in May and early June but the prospect of GST, even though honey does not attract it, seems to be slowing sales this month.

Specialised prepaks continue to sell well overseas but Lebanon still presents a problem and AHBIC assistance in this matter is appreciated.

Shirley Stephens

Crop Report - Queensland

As far as crops go, the continuing cold weather has brought honey production in Queensland to a standstill.  Honey producers working in the Channel Country report that bees have gone back in strength due to cold and frosty conditions.  Yapunyah is not yielding any honey.  The remainder of the state is not experiencing any honey flows at the moment.

Colony strength remains a priority with most honey producers.  Very little honey is being held by Queensland beekeepers.

Prospects are too early to call at this time for production to January.

Bill Winner

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