Bee biosecurity awareness for beekeepers and growers
Plant Health Australia (PHA) manages and administers a number of projects that support honey bee biosecurity. These include BeeAware; a hub of information for beekeepers and growers about honey bee biosecurity and pollination of agricultural and horticultural crops, the National Bee Biosecurity Program; which aims to improve the management of established pest and diseases amongst Australian beekeepers, as well as increase beekeeper preparedness for exotic pest threats to the honey bee industry, and Biosecurity for Beekeepers BOLT course.
BeeAware is a hub of information for beekeepers and growers about honey bee biosecurity and pollination of agricultural and horticultural crops. The site contains an extensive range of information about exotic and established pests and diseases of honey bees, and helps beekeepers to identify and respond to these pest threats. BeeAware also contains information about the pollination of crops and how beekeepers and growers can work together to provide and receive best practice pollination services. BeeAware is funded by the Australian honey bee industry, pollinator-reliant plant industries, PHA, governments and R&D agencies.
National Bee Biosecurity Program
The National Bee Biosecurity Program (NBBP) is managed and administered by PHA on behalf of the Australian Honey Bee Industry Council (AHBIC). The Program aims to improve the management of established pests and diseases amongst Australian beekeepers, as well as increase beekeeper preparedness for exotic pest threats to the honey bee industry, through training and education. The NBBP is funded by industry through the honey levy, with support from the state governments.
The Program employs Bee Biosecurity Officers in each state. A key role of the BBOs is to assist beekeepers in understanding their biosecurity obligations under the Australian Honey Bee Industry Biosecurity Code of Practice, and to provide advice on pest and disease management practices. This is accomplished through a variety of extension and education-based activities, including attendance at industry field days, presentations at beekeeper club meetings, delivery of workshops and apiary visits.
Underpinning the National Bee Biosecurity Program is the Australian Honey Bee Industry Biosecurity Code of Practice (the Code). The Code outlines the best-practice biosecurity principles that all Australian beekeepers should be following including:
- register as a beekeeper
- regularly inspect hives for significant pests and diseases
- report notifiable diseases
- control or eradicate pests and diseases, and manage weak hives
- maintain records of biosecurity related actions and observations
- appropriately construct and brand (label) hives
- protect hives from neglect or exposure
Commercial beekeepers with 50 or more hives also need to:
- undertake approved pest and disease training every three years
- undergo annual honey testing for American foulbrood disease
Commercial beekeepers can provide a declaration that they operate and manage their bee hives in compliance with the Code of Practice. Growers who use managed hives for pollination can ask beekeepers about compliance with the Code of Practice to ensure they are getting the services that they pay for when bringing in hives during pollination. They can also contact the BBOs for advice if they have any concerns about the health and performance of bees working their crop.
Biosecurity for Beekeepers BOLT course
The Biosecurity for Beekeepers eLearning course was developed by PHA in consultation with AHBIC, to enable beekeepers to undertake pest and disease training under the Code of Practice.
The course covers:
- checking hives for pests and diseases
- identifying exotic and established pests and diseases of honey bees
- taking action after finding a serious pest or disease in their hive
- minimizing the impact of pests and diseases on their hives.
The Biosecurity for Beekeepers course is delivered by Plant Health Australia through funding from the Australian Honey Bee Industry Council. The development of the course was funded by AgriFutures Australia.