Hobby beekeepers benefit from new resource 13 Feb 2015

Over recent years the number of beekeepers in Australia has increased markedly in both urban and regional areas.

They now have access to a wealth of information about keeping bees and honey bee biosecurity with the release of the book The Australian Beekeeping Guide. This book was previously published under the title Beekeeping in 1991.

The book draws on the knowledge and experience of scientists, various state and territory beehive inspectors and officers and, most importantly, beekeepers. It provides a strong platform for beginner beekeepers to grow their hobby and is a useful foundation for those contemplating beekeeping as a sideline or full-time commercial enterprise.

Beekeeper and spokesperson for the Honey Bee and Pollination R&D Program, James Kershaw, said beekeeping was a craft, learned over a number of years.

“Successful beekeeping is about practice, building experience and confidence. It’s a fascinating and rewarding hobby, a profitable sideline and, for many commercial operators, a full time occupation which contributes millions of dollars to the Australian economy each year,” Mr Kershaw said.

“Healthy honey bee colonies are also necessary for the economic viability of pollination-dependant horticultural and seed crops.

“This book provides beekeepers, especially those new to the craft, with valuable information, particularly in relation to pests and diseases.”

Mr Kershaw says the Australian honey bee and pollination industry faces a number of significant risks and economic challenges.

“This includes biosecurity threats such as the Varroa mite, which has caused devastation in neighbouring countries.

“The establishment of Varroa in Australia could put at risk the supply of bee colonies for pollination of crops, so it’s vital that a resource such as The Australian Beekeeping Guide is regularly updated to ensure information on bee diseases and pests is current,” Mr Kershaw said.

The project has been funded by the Honey Bee and Pollination R&D Program, which is funded by the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC) and Horticulture Innovation Australia Limited (HIA); as well as the Victorian Department of Economic Development.

For a copy of The Australian Beekeeping Guide go to

The BeeAware website ( is another source of information regarding exotic and established pests and diseases of honey bees, and ways beekeepers can identify and respond to these pest threats.