Beekeeping, amateur and commercial, is regulated by Act of Parliament, formerly the Apiaries Act, now replaced by the Biosecurity Act of 2015.
A Code of Practice based on the Act has been widely promulgated by the responsible government authority, the Department of Primary Industries (DPI).
Embodying principles of good bee management, the Code aims to reduce the risks of established and exotic pests and diseases affecting honey bees. It does not apply to Australian native bees.
Some aspects of the Code have long been mandatory; registration of hives with the DPI, hygienic management practices, avoiding leaving honey, empty hives or any bee products exposed to bees which may carry disease.
These and requirements compulsory after July 2020 are simply good practice.
All beekeepers must register with the DPI and the number allocated must be clearly marked on each hive.
Hives not on the owner's property must be accompanied by a sign showing the beekeeper's name and contact phone number.
Beekeepers must be competent to manage bees and to recognise and manage diseases, four of which must be notified to the Department. It is stipulated that a detailed inspection of every hive must be made at least twice a year, at least four months apart.
Every frame in the hive must be examined carefully, shaking the bees off brood combs to get a clear view of individual brood cells where disease may lurk.
Registered beekeepers may send specimens of suspected disease to the Elizabeth Macarthur Agricultural laboratory for confirmation, free of charge.
If American foul brood disease is confirmed the beekeeper must destroy the affected bees and hive.
At least one hive in an apiary must be tested once each year by one of three documented methods for exotic pests, such as the mite Varroa, which have not yet arrived in Australia.
If one has multiple hives, a barrier system of management is necessary to avoid cross contamination with potentially disease infected material or hive components. This means returning extracted combs to its hive of origin, or to one of a designated group.
Apiarists with more than 50 hives must be able to demonstrate their training and competency to recognise disease. In addition a mixed sample of honey extracted from the apiary is to be sent to the laboratory for testing for spores of the bacterium which causes American foul brood.
All honey bee beekeepers must keep records of every inspection, action and intervention, and these must be available for checking by DPI officers. If it is not written down, it wasn't done.