Bees hungry for access to public land 26 Nov 2014

Beekeepers are facing increased challenges as to where they can place their hives, putting at risk both honey production and the vital pollination services that honey bees provide.

Access to public land is increasingly being restricted in state forests and national parks because European honey bees are not considered native to Australia.

Research on access to public land is being conducted by the Honey Bee and Pollination RD&E Program, which is funded by the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC) and Horticulture Innovation Australia Limited (HIA).

Professional services company GHD is conducting the study to provide beekeepers with a better understanding of the varying state policies on beekeeping in these areas.

Beekeeper and Spokesman for the Program’s Advisory Panel James Kershaw said the importance of continued access cannot be understated.

“Around 70 per cent of Australian honey production comes from native flowers, many of which are prolific on public lands.

“On top of that, access to an array of native plant species is crucial to maintaining colony vigour as beekeepers must relocate their hives according to both the flowering times of particular species and seasonal conditions. 

“If the bees are not in good health, it’s harder to put their pollination services to work, and many horticultural and agricultural products rely on European honey bee pollination,” Mr Kershaw said.

The research is due to finish early next year and will provide the industry with a summary of policies on access for managed European honey bees in each State and Territory, as well as the criteria on which the decisions are made.

For more information about the Honey Bee and Pollination RD&E Program, go to