Providing practical information to help you protect your farm from biosecurity risks

A biosecurity toolkit for every beekeeper

November 21, 2012

Biosecurity Manual for the Honey Bee IndustryThe latest biosecurity manual released by Plant Health Australia (PHA) is being sent to every registered beekeeper in Australia in a concerted effort to protect our honey bees and the crop industries that rely on pollination services.

The Biosecurity Manual for Beekeepers is a 60-page biosecurity toolkit that explains how to keep honey bees healthy and how to spot pests and diseases that have devastated honey bee hives overseas.

According to Greg Fraser, Executive Director and CEO of PHA, the national coordinator of plant biosecurity in Australia, all beekeepers have a role to play in looking after Australia’s honey bees.

“There are a number of pests that exist in Australia that beekeepers need to keep an eye out for in their hives. Worse though, there are pests overseas like Varroa mite that could decimate the industry in Australia. Australia is the last major honey producing country in the world that is free from Varroa mite.”

“The manual shows what these pests look like in a hive and how to check for them, so that if these exotic pests do make it through border controls we can pick it up quickly, giving us the best chance of stopping it from spreading. But we need all beekeepers to be on the lookout.”

“PHA represents Australian governments and 32 plant industries, many of which rely on European honey bees for pollination, so honey bee biosecurity is important to us,” he said.

The manual and its distribution is an initiative of government and industry partners. PHA brought together experts from the Australian Honey Bee Industry Council, relevant state and territory departments, the Australian Government, beekeepers and honey bee scientists to devise the set of biosecurity and best management practices that beekeepers should incorporate into their day-to-day operations.

The manual contains fact sheets on 13 exotic and established pests and detailed information on how to check for these pests in an apiary. It gives simple guidelines on honey bee hygiene and product management principles.

Beekeepers who miss out on a copy of the manual or others wanting to understand best practice beekeeping can download a copy from the honey bee biosecurity section of the PHA website. The page also links to a free online training module that takes 10-20 minutes and covers the same information.

The development of the manual was funded by the Pollination Program, through Horticulture Australia, the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation and the Australian Honey Bee Industry Council. The Federal Council of Australian Apiarists’ Association and the Wheen Bee Foundation funded printing and postage. State and territory government departments of agriculture are posting copies to individual beekeepers.

For more information, go to the Honey bees section.