Policy for apiaries on public lands in NSW


The NSW Government has implemented a whole-of-government policy framework for the management of apiary sites on public lands, including State forests, travelling stock reserves and National Parks.

The new approach has streamlined administrative arrangements and support industry growth and development by providing:

  • A fair and transparent allocation system for new and vacant sites via an expression of interest (EOI) process that promotes and rewards best practice management by apiarists
  • A standard annual fee across all public land sites
  • A standard permit term of five years, with the ability to renew subject to a compliance and usage test
  • A support desk and central online portal that will provide a single point of contact for industry’s dealings with Government.

NSW DPI has led development of the new policy in consultation with industry and the key agencies responsible for the sites - Forestry Corporation of NSW, Local Land Services, and the National Parks and Wildlife Service.

The draft framework was released for public consultation from May to June 2017. A summary of feedback received is available in this Consultation Report (PDF, 631.94 KB).

The framework is being implemented progressively through 2018 and 2019. A pilot of the EOI process was held in July 2018 and a second EOI was launched in January 2019. Future EOI's will be published on the EOI process webpage.

Benefits for industry

The policy framework will deliver multiple benefits to industry, including:

  • A common framework for the administration of public land sites for beekeeping purposes across NSW.
  • A consistent and transparent process for allocation of new and vacated sites.
  • A single pricing structure across all public land sites.
  • Permit terms that provide certainty of tenure, while ensuring sites are actively used.
  • A single point of contact for industry’s dealings with Government.

Key elements

Policy area




  • New and vacated sites to be allocated in an open and competitive process via Expression of Interest (EOI).
  • EOI criteria to assess competence and compliance through:
    • History of compliance with biosecurity legislation and permit conditions
    • Demonstrated compliance with Biosecurity Code of Practice (e.g. through completion of the Plant Health Australia Biosecurity for Beekeepers online training course)
    • Completion of DPI Pests and Diseases training or demonstrated equivalent experience.
  • Additional support to assist applicants completing EOI.
  • Some circumstances where a permit can be allocated directly to an apiarist, for example:
    • where there is no other demand for the site, or
    • where an apiarist identifies a previously unregistered or long-term vacant site and the relevant agency confirms it to be an appropriate site for beekeeping.
  • Establishes a competitive and transparent process.
  • Allows for merit-based allocation through assessment of apiarists’ compliance history and competencies.
  • Consistent with relevant legislation and policy regarding competitiveness and transparency in the allocation of public resources.


  • Standard annual permit fee to apply across all sites, subject to annual CPI increase. Current pricing is listed on the DPI Beekeeping on public land web page.
  • Pricing structure to be reviewed after 5-years.
  • Site fee that is based on cost recovery principles and is consistent with pricing of other forms of public land tenure.
  • Administratively efficient.
  • Provides certainty to industry.

Permit term & renewals

  • Permits to be issued for five year term.
  • Renewals to be granted subject to the permit holder passing a compliance and usage test that will assess:
    • compliance with biosecurity legislation and permit conditions. See below.
    • level of activity on public land sites.
  • Provides certainty of tenure to support informed business planning and investment decisions.
  • Ensures permits are held by active users that maintain strong compliance.

Apiary Site Support Desk

  • A new Apiary Site Support Desk will be administered by a dedicated officer and include an Online Portal that will:
    • deliver information on the location and availability of apiary sites across NSW
    • provide an integrated customer database so beekeepers can manage all their transactions in one place.
  • Provides a central point of liaison for industry’s dealings with Government in relation to apiary sites.
  • Reduces administrative burdens and improves access to information.

Standard permit conditions

  • A standard set of permit conditions will apply across all public land apiary sites.
  • Each agency will have specific additional conditions relevant to their land type, however major conditions will be consistent.
  • Simplifies permit administration.
  • Provides consistency for industry.

Existing permits

Permits that were issued before 1 October 2016 will transition to the new framework as they fall due for renewal and subject to the new annual site fee. Permit holders will have a grace period of 12 months to ensure they have completed the necessary training and/or documentation to meet the compliance and usage test. To see what is required, visit the expression of interest pilot page.

Sites that became vacant on or after 1 October 2016 and were issued as an ‘interim permit’ will be renewed for a further 12 month period and subject to the new annual site fee. These permits will eventually be put through a competitive allocation process via EOI.

Holders of interim permits will be notified and invited to apply. For availability of sites during this interim period, contact the relevant agency for the land. Visit Beekeeping on public land for contact details.


The new framework is now in place.

The following areas of work were completed:

  • Recruitment for the Apiary Site Support Desk.
  • Standard permit pricing is in place across all agencies.
  • A pilot of the EOI process has been completed. Further EOI's will be published on our EOI process page.
  • Building systems to administer the EOI process.
  • A pilot of the online Long Term Vacant site allocation process ("First Come, First Served") with Forestry Corporation NSW.
  • A second EOI round.
  • Finalising standard permit conditions.
  • Building and testing the Online Portal.
  • Migrating existing permits across to the Online Portal.

Biosecurity approach for renewals

Ensuring that users of public apiary sites adopt strong biosecurity practice is critical to protecting all users of public apiary sites. In accordance with NSW Government’s whole of government apiary policy framework an apiarist’s biosecurity history will be assessed when an apiarist applies to renew a permit or license to use public apiary sites.

Apiarists who apply to renew apiary permits or licenses and have received a biosecurity penalty notice or prosecution in the last five years or are identified by DPI Biosecurity as having a significant biosecurity action pending will need to demonstrate their ability to meet their legal requirements for biosecurity compliance before they can be granted a further five year term.

They may be granted a 12 month license or permit extension provided they:

  • Agree to take steps to comply with the Australian Honeybee Industry Biosecurity Code of Practice and registration conditions
  • Demonstrate their compliance by carrying out an assessment with an Authorised Biosecurity Officer at least 3 months before expiry of the extension

The authorised biosecurity officer will evaluate the actions taken to ensure compliance. If successful, the apiarist will be able to renew their permit or license for a further 5 year period. If unsuccessful the renewal application will be declined and any hives will need to be removed from affected sites. The sites will be reallocated via an Expression of Interest process to other apiarists.


It is estimated that 40 per cent of apiary sites used by commercial apiarists in NSW are on public lands. The key agencies responsible for managing these sites are Forestry Corporation of NSW, Local Land Services and National Parks and Wildlife Service.

Each agency was applying a different system for site allocation, pricing, permit tenure and conditions. This created administrative burdens and uncertainty for industry.

In response to these concerns, DPI led the development of a whole-of-government policy framework for the management of apiary sites on public lands. The framework has been developed in consultation with relevant agencies, the NSW Apiarists’ Association and individual beekeepers across the State.

The framework will streamline regulatory arrangements by establishing a standard procedure for allocation of sites, pricing, permit tenure and conditions. While individual permits will continue to be issued under the legislative framework of the relevant land manager, agencies will work together to streamline administrative procedures.

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