Proposed changes to support the adoption of the Australian Honey Bee Industry Biosecurity Code of Practice
What is the Code of Practice?
In 2015, the honey bee industry, including all of the state-based beekeeping associations worked in consultation with beekeepers and governments to develop the Australian Honey Bee Industry Biosecurity Code of Practice (the Code). The Code was given a vote of support in each state and was nationally endorsed in July 2016.
The Code is a set of best practice biosecurity guidelines written by beekeepers for beekeepers with the aim of improving the standard of beekeeping across Australia. Beekeepers following these basic biosecurity practices will help minimise the impact of pests and diseases in their own hives and those of other beekeepers.
Areas covered by the Code include:
- pest and disease inspections and management
- weak hive management
- American foulbrood testing
- training and record keeping.
Why are we changing our regulations to include parts of the Code?
In July 2016, the Australian Honey Bee Industry Council endorsed the Code and its adoption across Australia. Since then work has been undertaken by state and federal governments to gradually phase in the standards described in the Code.
The honey bee industry has asked us to support them and the adoption of the Code through changes to our Victorian legislation. Parts of the Code are already covered under our current legislation, but to achieve national consistency further changes are required.
How will the amendments help the honey bee industry?
The Code was developed to ensure beekeepers have the awareness and knowledge to manage endemic bee pests and diseases like Chalkbrood and American foulbrood, which are causing significant economic and social harm to the bee industry. It will also help beekeepers detect exotic ones like varroa mite early.
Following the best practice guidelines outlined in the Code will help to:
- Increase the productivity of our honey bee industry by improving the general level of pest and disease control by beekeepers.
- Assist beekeepers to recognise exotic pests and diseases of bees and prepare for an exotic or emerging disease response.
- Ensure beekeepers conduct regular surveillance for the presence of notifiable exotic and endemic pests and diseases.
- Assist in the management of significant endemic diseases of bees, particularly American foulbrood.
Adopting these changes to Victorian legislation will help to ensure the future viability and sustainability of our honey bee and pollination industries.
What are the main changes to the legislation for beekeepers?
To support the honey bee industry’s adoption of the Code and improve biosecurity management, some changes to the Livestock Disease Control Regulations 2017 will be needed.
The most significant changes proposed for all beekeepers are a requirement to:
- check hives for pests and diseases
- improve record keeping of biosecurity related actions and observations
- control pests and diseases, and managing weak hives
- protect hives from neglect or exposure
Some parts of the Code apply to all beekeepers; others apply only to beekeepers with 50 or more hives because of the increased biosecurity risks that these beekeepers manage. Commercial beekeepers with more than 50 hives also need to:
- demonstrate adequate knowledge to identify and manage bee pests and diseases
- undergo annual honey testing for American foulbrood disease
- provide a declaration that they operate and manage their bee hives in compliance with the Biosecurity Code of Practice
Would you like to provide feedback?
You can learn more about what is being proposed or provide feedback by visiting the Engage Victoria website.
Feedback will be accepted up to 3 March 2019.
Want to know more?
Questions about the review can be directed to Cynthia Kefaloukos - Apiary and Plant Pest and Disease Officer.