Biosecurity plan an investment for award finalist

August 25, 2014

According to Lindsay Bourke, finalist in the 2014 Plant Biosecurity Farmer of the Year Award, a biosecurity plan is an investment in the future of a business and the community.

The beekeeper manages 3, 600 hives for honey production and the pollination of over 80 crops.

The main product of his company Australian Honey Products is leatherwood honey, including certified organic honey, and manuka honey with anti-bacterial properties.

Lindsay works in the field as a beekeeper and manages the day-to-day operations, packs product for sale and is on industry panels and committees.

With hives distributed at sites up to 250 km from base, Lindsay has implemented a detailed hive site management plan.

“Remote sites and conditions provide challenges, requiring good planning, flexibility and waterproof paper,” said Lindsay.

To ensure that pests and diseases are kept under control, each site is regularly visited by his beekeepers, recording environmental details, hive health and other observations.

Each individual site is recorded and logged into a data base and analysed by the office team.

“This can identify site specific problems, changes from previous visits or years, trends over time or a wider view across the state” he said.

Lindsay provided specific training for all of his beekeepers to ensure records are accurate.

“Beekeeping staff are required to inspect the brood 10 to 12 times per year against the national standard of 2 to 4,” he said.

Taking actions to stop issues from spreading benefit not only his business but also the broader industry and the environment.

“Regular inspections result in very healthy hives with virtually no foulbrood disease and good income per hive,” said Lindsay.

Signs are also used at the sites for others to report anything they might notice, clearly displaying the (company) name, site number and contact details.

This surveillance and reporting system enables the company to qualify for BQual, the national accreditation system for the industry.

According to Lindsay, there are many issues currently facing the beekeeping industry.

“There’s the threat of a Varroa destructor incursion, the presence of Asian honey bees (Varroa’s host) in Queensland, and of small hive beetle on mainland Australia,” advised Lindsay.

While chairman of the Australian Honey Bee Industry Council, Lindsay worked to improve the biosecurity preparedness of the industry, and awareness within the wider community of the role of pollination in improving the yield and quality of many fruit, vegetable and seeds.

More recently, in his role as President of the Tasmanian Beekeepers Association, he has been promoting a doubling in the levy for honey sales to be used for increased biosecurity initiatives.

Sponsored by Plant Health Australia, the Plant Biosecurity Farmer of the Year award recognises the efforts of producers dedicated to keeping their operations free of diseases, pests and weeds.

The award is part of the Australian Farmer of the Year Awards, hosted by Kondinin Group and ABC Rural. Winners of all award categories will be announced at a ceremony in Melbourne on 10 September.