On July 1, the Australian Honey Bee Industry Biosecurity Code of Practice (the code) became a mandatory condition of being a registered beekeeper in NSW.
This means that all beekeepers will be legally required to undertake at least the minimum requirements set out in the code.
If you own even one beehive in NSW you must be registered (no exceptions), so both hobbyist/recreational and commercial beekeepers need to be aware of and follow the code.
Victoria and South Australia are also making the code a legal requirement, meaning that there will be an overall improvement in bee biosecurity across all three states.
The Agricultural sector relies heavily on European honeybees to pollinate many crops and these services support up to $14 billion of agricultural produce annually.
It is therefore vital that beekeepers achieve good bee biosecurity to ensure their best productivity, especially in light of the extremely tough times they have experienced in recent years.
The code has been developed nationally after years of industry consultation and is designed to improve the general health and productivity of beehives as well as decrease the incidence of American foulbrood (AFB) in Australia.
AFB is often spread when bees consume honey (especially from a different colony of bees) and take AFB spores back to their own colony.
Therefore it is illegal to expose honey to bees.
This includes beekeepers failing to adequately protect their extracting facilities from robber bees and not managing weak hives, which then get robbed out.
Some people still think it is okay to feed honey to bees (or put it out for birds and bats), or to allow bees to clean up their sticky extracted frames or wax cappings.
This is not the case and slowly the code is educating that this is a potentially fatal practice that will kill bee colonies if they then contract AFB.
A very important aspect of the code is that any beekeeper managing 50 or more bee hives should be able to demonstrate they understand bee pests and diseases and how to identify and manage them.
If you run 50 or more colonies of bees in NSW then please ensure that you update your registered hive details with NSW DPI to accurately reflect this.
If you have not done an approved Bee Pest and Disease course in the last three years then please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I can assist you by supplying a free online course.
I can also supply a paper based course for beekeepers unable to do the online version.