Bees hungry for access to public land 24 Apr 2015

Help is now available for Australian beekeepers trying to negotiate access to public land – a vital source of pollen and nectar for the bees that provide essential pollination services to agriculture.

Around 70 per cent of Australian honey production comes from native flowers, many of which are prolific on public lands, but access is increasingly being restricted in state forests and national parks because European honey bees are not considered native to Australia.

State and Territory fact sheets have been developed to identify the registration, permit and/or licensing requirements for beekeepers seeking access to public lands, as well as highlighting land restrictions and criteria for interstate movement of hives and equipment. 

The fact sheets will not only help beekeepers better understand the rules and regulations that impact where they can place their hives, but will also allow them to be better informed when seeking permission for the relocation or movement of hives in locations that require government agency approval.

The fact sheets, as well as a full report, have been developed through 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).
Beekeeper and spokesman for the Program’s Advisory Panel James Kershaw says given approximately 63% of all land (484 million hectares) in Australia is dedicated public land, the importance of continued access cannot be understated.

“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.

“Beekeepers face an increasingly complex and challenging environment when negotiating access to these resources, so this project was designed to provide greater knowledge of the policies that affect beekeeping across Australia,” he said.

Each type of public land has different management objectives and licencing requirements, and there are differences between states for terms such as ‘national park’, so beekeepers are operating in a complex environment.

Mr Kershaw says given the level of complexity, beekeepers should take full advantage of the research in order to ensure their operation’s sustainability.

“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.

To download State and Territory fact sheets, view the full report, Compatibility of Management Objectives on Public Lands with Beekeeping, or for more information about the Honey Bee and Pollination RD&E Program, go to