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AgMemo

Better bee biosecurity

A row of beehives
The department leads biosecurity surveillance activities in Western Australia as part of the National Bee Pest Surveillance Program.

Beekeeping is growing in popularity within the state and we all have an important role to play in maintaining the health of our bee population.

Here’s what the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development is doing to protect our bees.

New bee biosecurity officer

We welcome James Sheehan to the newly appointed role of bee biosecurity officer.

James will be working with Western Australia’s bee industry and the Department’s apiary officers to engage the industry in best practice bee biosecurity.

James grew up on a mixed grazing property in South East Queensland and as a youngster developed a general interest in bees through a family friend and has been keeping a few hives ever since.

Not afraid of the odd sting he commenced work with a commercial Apiarist during his university breaks to earn a few dollars and relished in the experience.

He started with the Western Australian Department of Agriculture in 2004 as an invasive species biosecurity officer, and has continued to enjoy the practical nature of this work.

With his experience, James is aware of the value that good biosecurity practices can bring to businesses and the industry, and he looks forward to applying his skills and knowledge to his area of passion.

James will be working closely with beekeepers to help maintain Western Australia’s area freedom status from exotic pests, through education and assistance with bee pest and disease management.

James’ position has been partially funded by the WA bee industry and the department for the next 12 months.

We look forward to the knowledge, experience and enthusiasm that James brings to this new role.

National Bee Pest Surveillance Program – WA activity

The department leads biosecurity surveillance activities in Western Australia as part of the National Bee Pest Surveillance Program.

The program provides an early warning system to detect exotic bee pests or disease incursions into Australia and supports Australia’s pest free status claims during export negotiations.

Special ‘sentinel’ hives are being placed at key shipping ports and other strategic locations, where imports pose a risk of bringing in exotic bees or pests.

If an incursion of a pest is found, other states and territories can be quickly informed and closer checks for similar pests can be quickly implemented at their at-risk sites.

Interstate quarantine

The department’s Quarantine WA officers are stationed across the state and operate road checkpoints at Kununurra in the north and Eucla in the south-east, and monitor road, rail, air and mail routes.

The importation of any bees or used beekeeping equipment into Western Australia from interstate is restricted and can only be brought into Western Australia under strict quarantine conditions.

Honey, other bee products (i.e. wax, pollen, royal jelly, etc.) and goods containing bee products are restricted, and can only be brought into Western Australia under strict quarantine conditions.

Quarantine risk material will be seized and penalties may apply if these items are not declared to inspectors or placed in a Quarantine WA amnesty bin on arrival in WA.

Last year (2016-17 financial year), 3986kg of uncertified honey was intercepted at road checkpoints and the domestic airport.

Registrations

Beekeeping has grown in popularity in WA. The number of beekeepers has more than doubled in the last five years to more than 2300, maintaining more than 36 000 hives that provide a valuable pollination service to support horticultural crops.

There are 109 registered beekeepers considered commercial, making the majority hobby beekeepers.

In order to maintain high biosecurity standards, all beekeepers must be registered with the department. Application forms can be obtained from the Brands Registrar Office (Bunbury) on 9780 6100.

Upon registration beekeepers are issued with a brand by which to identify their hives.

More information about becoming a beekeeper in Western Australia is available from the department website.

For more information contact Andrea Johnston, Project Officer, South Perth on +61 (0)8 93634131 or James Sheehan, Bee Biosecurity Officer, Bunbury on +61 (0)8 9780 6182.