Becoming a beekeeper in Western Australia

Page last updated: Tuesday, 31 January 2023 - 12:15pm

Western Australian honey is among the best in the world. Its jarrah honey has excellent anti-microbial properties, similar to that of Manuka honey from New Zealand but using a different mechanism.

The industry is notable for its freedom from important bee diseases and exports bees to countries such as Canada each year.

Some commercial beekeepers have hundreds of hives, but others may have only a few hives for personal use based in suburban gardens.

All persons keeping honey bees in WA are legally required to register with the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD).

To register as a beekeeper, regardless of whether you have one beehive or 1000, use the Beekeeper registration application form. Upon registration, beekeepers are issued a certificate and provided a unique hive brand that must be burnt, stamped, carved or scored on each of their beehive boxes (both brood boxes and honey supers). For further information on registration, visit the Registering as an owner of stock or as a beekeeper webpage or contact the Brands Office (Bunbury) by phone 1300 926 547 or email Brands.Bunbury@dpird.wa.gov.au.

Current costs of registration can be obtained at DPIRD Fees, Charges and Procurement. Additionally, an Agricultural Produce Commission (APC) fee is charged (annually) to assist in bee pest and disease surveillance (i.e. training), particularly for exotic pests such as the Varroa mite.

DPIRD Apiary Officers undertake surveillance and sampling for exotic bee pests and diseases. If you have a bee pest or disease concern, please report this to an Apiary Officer at email PBHoney@dpird.wa.gov.au. If you suspect an exotic pest, such as Varroa mite, immediately call the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline on 1800 084 881.

DPIRD’s Diagnostics and Laboratory Services is available to test for common bee diseases although there is a fee for this work. The most common bee diseases known in Western Australia are American foulbrood (bacteria) and Chalkbrood (fungus). Visit the BeeAware website to learn more about established and exotic honey bee pests and diseases. 

Honey bees

The only European honey bee available in Western Australia is Apis mellifera (European honey bee).

Apiaries

An apiary site contains one or more hives. The average commercial apiary site is 100 hives (sometimes fewer when floral resources are limited). These sites can be on a beekeeper’s property, privately negotiated with landholders or on registered apiary sites (under permit) from the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions at Beekeeping on Crown land in Western Australia or contact Licensing Officer by email apiary@dbca.wa.gov.au or on 9219 8765.

Total Fire Ban days

On Total Fire Ban days, it is prohibited to use a bee smoker. Refer to emergency.wa.gov.au for Fire Ban alerts.

Buying bees and beekeeping equipment

There are numerous honey bee and equipment suppliers around Perth and WA to suit all styles of beekeeping. Newspapers and websites, such as Gumtree, also advertise equipment and bees for sale. Before making a purchase, check the supplier is compliant with the Australian Honey Bee Industry Biosecurity Code of Practice and that their bees are pest free. Beekeepers may also catch and collect honey bee swarms, but be aware these may carry disease.

Note: Bees and second-hand beekeeping equipment are restricted from entering Western Australia or moving from the Kimberley region.

Please advise a DPIRD Apiary Officer (PBHoney@dpird.wa.gov.au) or the Bee Industry Council of Western Australia (info@bicwa.com.au) if you have any queries or concerns regarding bees or used beekeeping equipment purchases.

Australian Honey Bee Industry Biosecurity Code of Practice

The Australian Honey Bee Industry Biosecurity Code of Practice (the Code) has been developed in consultation with the beekeeping industry and governments to provide a framework for Australian beekeepers to use best-practice biosecurity measures. 

Fundamental biosecurity practices outlined in the Code include:

  • Training and planning
  • Controlling pests and diseases
  • Preventing the spread of undetected diseases
  • Surveillance for exotic pests and diseases
  • Keeping accurate records
  • Hive and equipment maintenance

The Code is available in English, Greek, Arabic, Italian and Turkish. Aligned with the Code, all beekeepers in Australia can complete free Biosecurity for Beekeepers online training course. 

Contact information

James Sheehan
+61 (0)8 9780 6182
Jessica Bikaun