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Changes for beekeepers in Queensland

The Biosecurity Act 2014 (the Act) commenced on 1 July 2016. As a beekeeper you need to take an active role in managing biosecurity risks under your control. You are not expected to know about all biosecurity risks, but you are expected to know about those associated with your day-to-day work and your hobbies. The general biosecurity obligation means you need to ensure your activities do not spread a pest, disease or contaminant. You need to:

  • take all reasonable and practical steps to prevent or minimise each biosecurity risk
  • minimise the likelihood of the risk causing a biosecurity event and limit the consequences of such an event
  • prevent or minimise the adverse effects the risk could have and refrain from doing anything that might exacerbate the adverse effects.

You can choose to follow the national biosecurity code of practice for beekeepers as one way to demonstrate you are meeting your general biosecurity obligation. This is available from the Australian Honeybee Industry Council.

Registration and cancellation of registration

The Biosecurity Act 2014 (the Act) requires Queensland beekeepers to register as biosecurity entities.

If you are a new beekeeper, you must register as a biosecurity entity with Biosecurity Queensland.

New registrations from 1 July 2016 will be registered as a biosecurity entity under the Act.

If you renewed your registration in March 2016 (i.e. the traditional registration renewal date for beekeepers) it will continue until March 2017, at which time you will be required to register under the new Act.

Registration is an important tool for tracing investigations in the event of a pest or disease incursion. Under the Act, if you keep at least 1 beehive you must register as a biosecurity entity. This replaces the previous requirement to be a registered beekeeper.

The Act allows for an individual, multiple people, or a business to be registered depending on who owns the hives. A registrable biosecurity entity (RBE) is allocated a hive identification number (HIN) and only 1 HIN will relate to each RBE. In most cases, your current brand will become your HIN.

You should contact our Customer Service Centre to:

  • advise if you have a new mailing address
  • transfer your hives to another beekeeper
  • cancel your registration.

Read more about:

Regulated bees and pests of bees

Under the Biosecurity Act 2014, the following pests and carriers are prescribed as prohibited matter:

  • Asian honey bee (Apis dorsata, A. florea, A. cerana other than cerana javana)
  • bumblebee (Bombus spp.)
  • Africanised bee (Apis mellifera scutellata)
  • tracheal mite (Acarapis woodi)
  • tropilaelaps mite (Tropilaelaps clareae and mercedesae)
  • varroa mite (Varroa destructor)
  • varroa mite (Varroa jacobsoni).

This means it is a serious offence to keep, possess, distribute or transport these pests and carriers. This extends to the movement of hives, bee products and beekeeping appliances that are potentially carrying prohibited matter. You must also report the presence of these pests and carriers to Biosecurity  Queensland  on 13 25  23 or the Exotic Plant Pest hotline on 1800 084 881.

If you notice changes such as scattered brood, crippled honey bees and a reduction in honey bee population, you should notify Biosecurity Queensland or the Emergency Plant Pest Hotline (1800 084 881) immediately. The hives should not be moved until they have been inspected.

Asian honey bee

Under the Act, Asian honey bee (Apis cerana javana) is prescribed as category 1 restricted matter.

It must be reported if you become aware of its presence. You must not take any action reasonably likely to exacerbate, and must take any action reasonably likely to minimise, the biosecurity risk posed by Asian honey bee.

Asian honey bee is known to occur in an area around Cairns and while it has been determined that it is not possible to eradicate this pest there is continuing benefit in minimising the spread and managing new incursions. New incursions of Asian honey bees may result in the introduction of varroa mites, which could be a significant threat to European honey bee colonies in Australia.

Biosecurity Queensland will continue to undertake actions (including surveillance and responding to public reports) outside of the known infested area to limit the spread of the pest beyond what would occur naturally.

If you are outside of the known infested area (around Cairns) you must report all suspect Asian honey bee sightings (including any swarms or nests you have destroyed) and provide a sample of the bees where possible.

This is particularly important if the swarm or nest is suspected to be a new incursion, or if it is located near an airport or seaport in Queensland. Record the exact location of the sighting and contact Biosecurity Queensland on 13 25 23 or the Exotic Plant Pest hotline on 1800 084 881.

American foulbrood disease

Under the Act, American foulbrood (Paenbacillus larvae) is prescribed as category 1 restricted matter. You must report it as soon as you become aware of its presence and you must not take any action that may worsen the biosecurity risk posed by American foulbrood. You must also take action to minimise the risk, such as controlling the disease and preventing it from spreading within your apiary and to other apiaries.

Find out more about how to manage American foulbrood.

Small hive beetle

Small hive beetle is widespread throughout Queensland. Small hive beetle is not regulated under the Act and there is no requirement to notify Biosecurity Queensland if your hives are infested.

Beekeepers are however encouraged to manage small hive beetle as part of their general biosecurity obligation, as far as is reasonable and practical.

Braula fly (bee louse)

Braula fly are currently only found in Tasmania and are not present on mainland Australia. It is a pest of concern to the industry. Braula fly will be prohibited matter under the Act, and as such it is an offence to deal with it. The movement of associated risk materials is also considered to be high risk. As such, if you bring carriers (queen bees and escort bees, comb honey, wax) from Tasmania or another infested  place without meeting the requirements of the Queensland Biosecurity Manual you will be in breach of your general biosecurity obligation. This is similar to the previous requirement to have a health certificate for carriers brought into Queensland from Tasmania.