News

News

Honey levy to BEEf up surveillance 07 Mar 2014

Beekeepers are being urged to vote on a proposed increase to the honey levy to fund the National Bee Pest Surveillance Program, an early warning system designed to help keep Australia free of pest bees and bee pests.

If not caught early, these exotic pests could wipe out a substantial number of managed hives, and the feral European honey bees that help pollinate our food crops.

Beekeepers who produce over 600 kilograms of honey per year pay the levy, which currently funds research, biosecurity activities and testing. Postal votes on the reforms are now open for any beekeepers who can’t attend state conferences over coming months

Chairman of the Australian Honey Bee Industry Council (AHBIC), Ian Zadow, said it’s critical for the industry to vote yes for the proposed biosecurity levy increase to help fund the surveillance program

“Catching bee pests and pest bees when they first arrive greatly increases the possibility of eradicating an incursion, and limits the scale and cost of any eradication program

“It’s not just our honey at risk - many crops are dependent on pollination by honeybees for yield and quality. The value of pollination is estimated at $4-6 billion per year and we need to do everything we can to protect this.

“Australia also exports queen bees and packaged bees, and surveillance will help to support our pest-free status claim in export negotiations,” Mr Zadow said.

The National Bee Pest Surveillance Program has made significant advances in recent years, increasing the number of sentinel hives to over 120 at high risk ports around Australia. These are the front line for detection of the Varroa mite and other pests.

“We now have the technology for 24/7 remote monitoring of beehives at high risk ports, as well as using hobby beekeepers in urban environments, and state government staff and federal biosecurity teams to identify and mount a response to a possible incursion,” Mr Zadow said.

“The current program is an excellent example of effective collaboration between honeybee and plant industries and government at both a federal and state and territory level.

“Unfortunately, it is expensive and we need the support of beekeepers to increase the levy so the industry can continue to contribute its share of funding. Without this, the entire program will be at risk.”

All beekeepers registered with 11 hives or more are eligible to vote on the proposed changes and they’re being urged to take part in the consultation process and understand the proposed changes to the honey levy.

Information about the proposed changes, and how to be involved and vote, is available at http://honeybee.org.au/programs/honey-levy-reform-and-increase/

For details on the National Bee Pest Surveillance Program, visit nbpsp.planthealthaustralia.com.au