Honey bees

The Australian Honey Bee Industry Council (AHBIC) is the peak honey bee industry body that represents the interests of its member state beekeeping organisations and beekeepers from around Australia. Responsibilities of the representative body include:

  • biosecurity planning and implementation at the national and farm levels
  • liaising with federal and state governments on trade issues
  • funding and supporting biosecurity initiatives
  • participating in national committees and response efforts in an emergency.

Industry overview

In 2017–18, honey and beeswax production was valued at $126 million (LVP). Around 30,000 registered beekeepers operate nearly 669,000 hives. Of these, 1,868 operate commercially with 50 or more hives. Apiaries range in size from one hive to several thousand.

The industry has products other than honey. Australia exports live bees and our beeswax commands a premium price overseas. Trade relies on the healthy status of Australia’s bees, with beeswax valued highly because it lacks residue from miticides used overseas to treat varroa mites.

Australia’s bees are further valued for their pollination services. The economic value of managed and feral honey bees as pollinators was estimated to lie between $8.35 to $19.97 billion in 2014–15.

AHBIC works in partnership with other industries and governments to protect the health of bees with several biosecurity initiatives. One is the National Bee Pest Surveillance Program, which operates at ports around Australia to provide an early detection mechanism for exotic pests of bees and pest bees.

Another was to work with PHA and state and territory governments to develop the Australian Honey Bee Industry Biosecurity Code of Practice, which was endorsed nationally by the honey bee industry in 2016. The aim of the Code of Practice is to improve the management of established pests and diseases, as well as increase preparedness and surveillance for exotic pest threats.

The honey bee industry also funds the National Bee Biosecurity Program, a partnership between industry and government, which employees Bee Biosecurity Officers (BBO) in all Australian states. BBOs provide training and education to help beekeepers to implement biosecurity measures and ensure they are complying with the Code of Practice and relevant legislation.

Following the detection of varroa mites (Varroa jacobsoni) on Asian honey bees in Townsville in June 2016, the Australian Government Department of Agriculture established the National Varroa Mite Eradication Program, of which AHBIC has been a part. No bees or Varroa mites associated with this incident in Townsville have been found since November 2016.

Suspect varroa mites (Varroa jacobsoni) were again detected on Asian honey bees at the Port of Townsville in May 2019. Genetic testing of bees indicated that it was a new incident. AHBIC has been involved with the eradication of this second detection, which is expected to move to Proof of Freedom Phase in February 2020.

Future of beekeeping and pollinationPHA submitted a paper to the 2014 Senate inquiry into the future of the beekeeping and pollination service industries in Australia.

Future of Beekeeping and Pollination Service Industries in Australia (March 2014)

Annual value of honey and beeswax production, 2007–18

Distribution of honey and beeswax production by state and territory, 2017–18 (based on LVP)

Honey bee IBP Biosecurity planning provides a mechanism for the honey bee industry, government and other relevant stakeholders to assess current biosecurity practices and future biosecurity needs. Planning identifies procedures that can be put in place to reduce the chance of pests reaching our borders or minimise the impact if a pest incursion occurs.

The Industry Biosecurity Plan for Honey Bee Industry outlines key threats to the industry, risk mitigation plans, identification and categorisation of exotic pests and contingency plans.

For a copy, please contact PHA on 02 6215 7700 or email [email protected]

The Biosecurity Manual for Beekeepers provides information for the industry and producers about biosecurity practices and honey bee pests.

Biosecurity Online Training

Honey bee biosecurity module – a short awareness course based on the Biosecurity Manual for Beekeepers. It provides an introduction to biosecurity best practice, hive inspections, surveillance, moving hives and how to report a suspect Emergency Plant Pest.

Biosecurity for Beekeepers – provides advice on keeping honey bees healthy using industry best practice. This course supports the Australian Honey Bee Industry Code of Practice and is one way to meet the training requirement of the Code.

Find out more about training options

Workshop Acari

The potential impacts of a Varroa mite detection, and the ensuing response, on the pollination-dependent industries was investigated at Workshop Acari. Government regulators, pollination providers, and representatives from the beekeeping and pollination-dependent industries interacted with international and Australian experts through a mixture of key note presentations and discussion activities.

The workshop demonstrated to apiarists, the almond and other pollination-dependant industries how to prepare for, and act in, an incursion. More information on the workshop can be found in the Workshop Report.

Workshop Acari built on the report Varroa Mite Preparedness of Pollination Dependent Industries.

Other biosecurity projects

Information about the following projects is available in the National Programs section of this site.

  • Bee Biosecurity Video Series
  • National Bee Biosecurity Program
  • Bee Biosecurity Officers
  • National Bee Pest Surveillance Program
  • Australian Honey Bee Industry Biosecurity Code of Practice
  • BeeAware website

Apiary biosecurity forms

The following forms are available as editable pdf documents:


Apiary biosecurity signs

There are two templates for biosecurity signs:

  • Honey bee biosecurity sign corflute panel measuring 900 x 600mm with four eyelets for use on gates to properties or apiary
  • A4 sign that can be staked at each apiary or moved around with each load of hive.
Honey bee Postcard


Promotional postcard to support the exotic plant pest hotline 1800 084 881

Honey bee biosecurity threats


The Honey bee biosecurity threats brochure describes established and exotic pests of honey bees in Australia.


Exotic pests (not in Australia)

The following is a list of high priority exotic pests of honey bees. These pests were identified during the development of the Industry Biosecurity Plan for the Honey Bee Industry in consultation with industry, government and scientists. They have been assessed as high priority pests based on their potential to enter, establish, and spread in Australia (eg environmental factors, host range, vectors) and the cost to industry of control measures.

PHA has a range of fact sheets, contingency plans and diagnostic protocols relevant to these pests. Please contact PHA on 02 6215 7700 or email [email protected] for more information.

Common name Scientific name EPPRD Category Fact sheet Contingency plan Diagnostic protocol
Acute bee paralysis virus (ABPV) Acute bee paralysis virus (Cripavirus)
African honey bee Apis mellifera scutellata
Africanised honey bee Apis mellifera scutellata (hybrid) FS
Asian honey bee Apis cerana (exotic strains, genotypes and sub-species) FS FS
Cape honey bee Apis mellifera capensis FS
Deformed wing virus Deformed wing virus (Iflavirus)
Hornets Vespa spp. (exotic species) FS
Large hive beetle Hoplostoma fuligineus FS
Slow paralysis virus Slow paralysis virus (Iflavirus)
Tracheal mite Acarapis woodi FS FS
Tropilaelaps mites Tropilaelaps clareae and Tropilaelaps mercedessae FS FS
Varroa mites Varroa destructor and Varroa jacobsoni FS FS

Other pests

The following is a list of documents for established pests of the honey bee industry. Please note that this is not a complete list of pests: rather it includes pests for which documents exist in the Pest Information Document Database.

Common name Scientific name EPPRD Category Fact sheet Contingency plan Diagnostic protocol
American foulbrood Paenibacillus larvae FS
Black queen cell virus Black queen cell virus (Cripavirus) FS
Braula fly Braula coeca FS
Chalkbrood disease Ascosphaera apis FS
European foulbrood Melissococcus plutonius FS
Greater wax moth Galleria mellonella FS
Lesser wax moth Achroia grisella FS
Nosemosis Nosema apis and N. ceranae FS
Sacbrood virus Sacbrood virus (Iflavirus) FS
Small hive beetle Aethina tumida FS