Beekeepers affected by floods
Apiaries located in a flood-affected area
Beekeepers with apiaries in flood-affected areas must:
- confirm their apiary site is safe to access
- seek any relevant permission(s) before entering to remove any hives.
Access cannot be guaranteed in all areas due to:
- changing flood conditions
- concerns for your personal safety.
If you believe a flood could potentially threaten your apiary you can monitor the situation and stay up to date with incidents and warnings on the VicEmergency website.
For more information on road closures visit the VicRoads website.
DO NOT travel into an area until safe passage is assured
Monitor conditions and alerts. Do not attempt to reach your hives if unsafe to do so.
Visit the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) to check any flood warnings for rivers across Victoria.
Selecting a new apiary site during a flood situation
Selecting a new bee site involves a thorough risk assessment. Before going to the effort of delivering your hives to a new site, ask yourself:
- Where is the nearest water supply your bees can access without causing public nuisance? Or will you need to cart in water?
- What access is there to the site? Could it easily be cut off?
- Is there more than one way to approach the site? Is there an alternative route out?
Public or private apiary sites
Contact the land manager or property owner of public or private apiary sites to let them know you located your bees on their site (even though a pre-existing agreement exists). Provide them your full contact details, including phone numbers, address and beekeeper registration number, so that contact can be made rapidly if required.
Land managers, if kept informed, can then consider the bees in their daily management schedules.
This may include functions such as the use of chemical sprays, maintenance of tracks, hazard reduction burning, and the movement of livestock.
Assisting hives to recover post flood damage
Wait until flood waters have receded and it is safe to attend your apiary site
Be aware that any brood that went under water is likely to be dead and flood waters may have been muddy, or polluted causing contamination of the frames.
You will need to decide if your honey is still “food safe”, and give your bees the best chance to rehabilitate the hive by assisting in the clean-up, not leaving the bees to do it alone
Any contaminated honey frames and/or frames containing dead brood should be cut out and burnt as soon as possible.
Put in place measures to control or prevent small hive beetle infestation, which can overrun the colony and prevent its survival.
These include reducing the hive down to eliminate dead space, installing small hive beetle traps, and removing and burning any frames that become heavily infested with small hive beetle larvae.
Bees can only build comb when on an adequate nectar flow. Supplementary feed hives to assist in immediate recovery until conditions improve.
Consider feeding both sugar syrup and possibly a protein supplement to give them the best chance of recovery.
Information on supplementary feeding.
Tips for preparing hives for flooding and wet weather
Wedge the back of your hive to tilt it slightly forward to assist moisture to run out when preparing for ongoing rain, wet weather, and high humidity.
Reduce moisture entering the hive by trimming wet grass around the entrance.
Move hives to higher ground if adequate flood intelligence warning allows this to be done safely. It is also a good idea to move hives into full sun, so they have an opportunity to dry out after wet periods.
Alternatively, raise your hives up on bricks to elevate out of waterlogged areas.
If the entrance to your hive is likely to end up underwater, you can remove the queen excluder and adjust the lid to provide a “top entrance”. This can also be achieved by using a spare bottom board upside down as a lid.
Securely strap your hives to pallets so materials can be recovered even if colonies perish or float away.
Health and personal wellbeing
It is normal to have strong reactions following a distressing or frightening event and people can experience a range of physical, mental, emotional and behavioural reactions.
There are a number of support services available (listed below) to assist you and your family recover from the strong emotional or physical reactions you may be experiencing.
If at any time you are worried about your mental health or the mental health of a loved one, call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or contact:
- your doctor, local community health centre
- a counsellor or psychologist
- Parentline 13 22 89 or the Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800
- Nurse-On-Call 1300 60 60 24 – for expert health information and advice (24 hours, 7 days)
- Australian Psychological Society Referral Service 1800 333 497
More information and support is available at Check your health and wellbeing.
It is critical to make contact with your insurance company as soon as possible if you need to make a claim for:
- damaged hives
- bee colonies
Insurance policies vary, so make sure you check with your insurer to see what your policy covers.
If you need information from Agriculture Victoria about your beekeeper registration details to support of your claim, please email email@example.com
More information on honey bees.