NSW beekeeper registration conditions are changing

From 1 July 2020, it will be compulsory for beekeepers registered in NSW to ensure their management practices meet the minimum standards outlined in sections of the Australian Honey Bee Industry Biosecurity Code of Practice (the Code). The table below summarises the Code conditions, specifying which requirements currently are legally enforceable and which new requirements will become enforceable from 1 July 2020.

Table 1: Summary of changes to Conditions of Registration as highlighted in the ‘Bee Biosecurity Code of Practice’

Part B - Applies to all beekeepersIs this a new requirement?
1Beekeepers must be registeredExisting requirement. Under the NSW Biosecurity Act 2015, all persons who keep European honey bees (Apis mellifera) in NSW must be registered under the NSW Biosecurity Act 2015. This condition is currently enforced and will continue when the Code becomes mandatory from 1 July 2020.
2Beekeepers must report notifiable diseasesExisting requirement. Under the NSW Biosecurity Act 2015, persons who suspect notifiable bee pests or diseases must report them to NSW DPI. This requirement currently enforceable and will continue when the Code becomes mandatory from 1 July 2020. The notifiable pests and diseases are American foulbrood, European foulbrood, chalkbrood and Nosema.
3Hives must be regularly inspected for pests and diseasesNew requirement. Beekeepers should already be inspecting for pests and diseases as part of their management practices. The change in this condition is that from 1 July 2020 a minimum number of inspections per year with record keeping (specified in the Code) will become compulsory. Beekeepers who do not meet the requirement may expose themselves to compliance action.
4Beekeepers must control or eradicate pests and disease and must manage weak hivesExisting requirement. Under the NSW Biosecurity Act 2015 beekeepers must manage known biosecurity risks to meet their General Biosecurity Duty. This requirement is currently enforceable and will continue when the Code becomes mandatory from 1 July 2020.
5Beekeepers must maintain records of biosecurity related actions and observations including hive movements, theft, sale and disposalPartially new requirement. Beekeepers must already keep records of hive movements, theft, sale and disposal. New requirements in relation to this condition will be the keeping of additional records for pest disease inspection and sampling.
6Hives must be appropriately constructed and brandedExisting requirement. This requirement is currently enforceable and will continue when the Code becomes mandatory from 1 July 2020. All hives must be branded with the beekeeper’s registration no.
7Beekeepers must not allow hives, or appliances to become exposed or neglectedExisting requirement. This requirement is currently enforceable and will continue when the Code becomes mandatory from 1 July 2020.
8Beekeepers must allow their operation to be assessedExisting requirement. This requirement is currently enforceable and will continue when the Code becomes mandatory from 1 July 2020.
Part C - Additional requirements for beekeepers who manage 50 or more hivesIs this a new requirement?
9Beekeepers managing 50 or more hives must demonstrate a minimum level of knowledge  of pest and disease identification and managementNew requirement. Beekeepers managing 50 or more hives should already have a level of knowledge appropriate to identify and manage pests and diseases. The new condition is that from 1 July 2020 beekeepers managing 50 hives or more must meet the minimum self-education requirements specified in the Code. You can meet this requirement in a number of ways including completing unit AHCBEK306A of the Certificate III in Beekeeping (Manage pests and diseases within a honey bee colony) or completing the Biosecurity for Beekeepers course offered by Plant Health Australia’s Biosecurity Online Training (BOLT). Beekeepers who do not meet the requirement may expose themselves to compliance action.
10Beekeepers managing 50 or more hives must have honey tested annually for American Foulbrood (AFB)New requirement. Annual honey testing for AFB will become compulsory for beekeepers managing 50 or more hives from 1 July 2020. The beekeeper is only required to have one test conducted on a pooled honey sample representing at least 20% of their hives. Samples should be submitted to the Elizabeth Macarthur Agricultural Institute with a bee disease diagnostics form. Beekeepers who do not meet the requirement may expose themselves to compliance action.
11Beekeepers managing 50 or more hives must declare that they are complying with the Code when renewing their registration.New requirement. Beekeepers managing 50 or more hives will be required to confirm that they are meeting the requirements of the Code when renewing their registration. This will be done as part of the online registration renewal process. Beekeepers who do not make this declaration will not be able to complete their renewal from 1 July 2020.
Part D - Recommendations for all beekeepersIs this a new requirement?
12Apiary sites should be identified (Apiary means a group of one or more hives assembled in one area or location, i.e. a 'site')This will not become an enforceable requirement. This condition remains a recommendation and will not be enforced. Although it is not mandatory to identify apiary sites, it is mandatory to brand all individual hives with the beekeeper’s registration number as specified in condition 6.
13Beekeepers should maintain a barrier system of hive managementThis will not become an enforceable requirement. This condition remains a recommendation and will not be enforced.

Further information

The Australian Honey Bee Industry Biosecurity Code of Practice has been developed by the Honey Bee Industry Council (AHBIC) in collaboration with all states and territories to provide a national minimum standard for beekeeping practices.

The changes to NSW registration conditions to include the Code are supported by all beekeeping bodies in NSW through the Bee Industry Biosecurity Consultative Committee (BIBCC).

A number of resources and further information is available on the NSW DPI registration webpage to assist you with meeting the new requirements.