Sweet growth and enhanced protection for our beekeepers

Jo Palmer, Minister for Primary Industries and Water

Tasmanian beekeepers have shown their resilience and commitment to producing iconic bee products and delivering critical pollination services to the State’s agricultural sector.

The Tasmanian Liberal Government is a strong supporter of the industry and today we are releasing the second Tasmanian Beekeeping Survey Report, which highlights the industry’s strength after bouncing back from a poor season in 2018-19 when bushfires and seasonal conditions impacted leatherwood honey production.

In 2020-21, more than 1000 tonnes of honey were produced, increasing production by 151 per cent from the previous survey in 2018‑19.

The farm gate value of honey was $12.8 million, up by 74 per cent from 2018-19. The value of pollination services also increased by 10 per cent to $2 million.

While the Survey Report results show the Tasmanian beekeeping industry has recovered well from recent challenges, our Government continues to work with beekeepers to ensure the industry remains strong.

We have worked with industry to develop the 2017 Bee Industry Futures Report and since 2018 have committed $780,000 for its implementation to ensure our beekeepers and the industries dependent on them for pollination, have a viable future.

This includes allocating $500,000 towards the implementation of the Bee Industries Future Report to support projects that permit access to Tasmania’s floral resources.

Funds have also been provided for a range of Industry Development Activities including:

  • $90,000 towards the Agricultural Development Fund hoverfly project
  • $40,000 to support research into medicinal and other benefits of leatherwood honey
  • $120,000 for the Bee Industry Emergency Winter Colony Management Scheme
  • $20,000 to create a Tasmanian Honey Library

Another focus of the Bee Industry Futures Report was biosecurity, and I know the Varroa Mite incursion in NSW is of particular concern for Tasmanian beekeepers.

That is why our Government has implemented a comprehensive suite of risk management actions, including working towards the purchase of purple hives or similar technology to provide for additional surveillance in ports.

The “Purple Hive” is a solar powered artificial intelligence device trained to detect varroa destructor in real time.

A resource intensive hive surveillance program also continues across the State, targeting more than 1000 hives which we know have received queen bees from NSW. To support this work, Biosecurity Tasmania has stood up three dedicated surveillance teams supported by four new part-time, fixed-term Biosecurity Officer positions.

I encourage all beekeepers to contribute to these surveillance activities by checking their hives and reporting via the new online varroa mite surveillance form found on the Department’s website.

In addition to this hive surveillance work, existing import requirements have been strengthened, including a precautionary prohibition on queen bee imports and Tasmania’s border inspection regime for bees and Varroa Mite has been bolstered.

I would like to thank the Tasmanian Beekeeping Association for its support of this survey, which provides industry and government with an important estimate of industry size and value and thank all of the beekeepers who participated in the survey.

The Survey Report is available at www.nre.tas.gov.au/beekeeping-survey.

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