Code of conduct calls to protect vital industry
THE apiary industry is calling for a boost to biosecurity efforts through a code of practice to protect Australia’s hives.
Developed by the Australian Honey Bee Industry Council (AHBIC) and Plant Health Australia (PHA) in consultation with the Australian Government, the Biosecurity Code of Practice provides commercial and hobby beekeepers across Australia with a framework to engage in best-practice biosecurity.
With the industry worth over $100 million annually in honey production, pest invasion presents a threat not only to commercial production but to the agricultural industry that relies heavily on bee pollination.
“Established pests and diseases like American foulbrood, small hive beetle and chalkbrood are causing significant economic and social harm to the bee industry and this would be exacerbated by an incursion of an exotic pest like the varroa mite,” says AHBIC Chair Peter McDonald.
The code details a set of measures for both hobby and commercial beekeepers — those with 50 or more hives — to follow in order to be compliant. These include instructions to:
- 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
- allow their operation to be assessed by bee biosecurity officers.
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— ABC Science (@ABCscience) August 15, 2018
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Mat Lumalasi of beekeepers Melbourne City Rooftop Honey says additional biosecurity measures are crucial for maintaining Australia’s high standards of hive health.
“We have the healthiest bees in the world — we’re one of the only countries to not have varroa mite — so biosecurity plays a major role in protecting our honey and pollination industry,” says Mr Lumalasi.
“I think any beekeeper in Australia would definitely embrace these biosecurity practices.”
Melbourne City Rooftop Honey manages hives in Melbourne’s CBD and fringe suburbs that individuals and corporations are encouraged to sponsor.
It’s a way for people to join the bee community, says Mr Lumalasi, while increasing awareness of the importance of bees for the agriculture industry.
“Bees play a major role in our food supply chain. The honey industry is valued at over $100 million but pollination is in the billions,” says Mr Lumalasi.
“It’s often the less-thought-about service that bees actually provide.”
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