Plant Health Australia gets buzz-y for World Bee Day

June 20, 2023

On 20 May 2023 Plant Health Australia (PHA) celebrated World Bee Day to spread awareness of the significance of bees and other pollinators for food security.

Australia’s honey bees are some of the healthiest in the world. The health of the beekeeping industry is key and has flow-on effects to pollination reliant industries and the wider community that benefit from healthy hives, their products, and the services they provide.

Bees are largely important for the pollination services they provide. Some major food crops rely on pollination from bees (and other insects), with one-third of Australia’s total food production benefitting from bee pollination.

European honey bees are the most wide-spread species currently used for large-scale commercial crop pollination in Australia. Australian native bees have evolved with Australian wildflowers and are great pollinators supporting our native bushlands (Australian Native Bees – The Wheen Bee Foundation).

With over 47,900 registered honey beekeepers who own approximately 855,330 hives, Australia’s biosecurity system plays a crucial role in protecting the health of our honey bees. There are several biosecurity initiatives undertaken pre-border, at the border and post border with industry and government that aim to keep Australia’s honey bee population as healthy as possible.

The National Bee Pest Surveillance Program is an early warning system to detect new incursions of exotic bee pests and pest bees. The program uses a range of surveillance methods conducted at high-risk seaports throughout Australia, considered the most likely entry points for these pests. The program is coordinated by PHA and primarily funded by 14 pollinator-reliant industries through Hort Innovation, with co-investment from the Australian Honey Bee Industry Council (AHBIC) and Grain Producers Australia (GPA) and in-kind support from state and territory agencies.

The National Bee Biosecurity Program (NBBP) supports post-border awareness and preparedness for exotic pest threats to the honey bee industry The NBBP is coordinated by PHA and employs six Bee Biosecurity Officers to help beekeepers meet their biosecurity obligations and ensure the ongoing accessibly of healthy hives for pollination reliant industries. Underpinning the NBBP is the Australian Honey Bee Industry Biosecurity Code of Practice, which provides a framework for Australian beekeepers to implement best-practice biosecurity measures in their hives and apiaries.

In April this year, beekeepers all over Australia were called to action to meet at least one of their inspection requirements by participating in the first Bee Pest Blitz. As part of the annual campaign, all beekeepers were called on to inspect their hives and perform alcohol washes. Beekeepers can access relevant information to support hive inspection practices by heading to the website Bee Pest Blitz – Plant Health Australia.

Due to the considerable growth in the native bee industry over the past few years, several factsheets focused on pest and diseases of native bees and biosecurity awareness are also available on the PHA website: Australian Native bees – Plant Health Australia.

Whether you are a commercial or recreational beekeeper or are passionate about protecting the environment to support our native bees, everyone can play role in improving biosecurity measures.

You can contribute to bee biosecurity by reporting something that looks unusual in your honey bee hives or reporting unusual looking bees in the environment using the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline 1800 084 881.

Bee Pest Blitz is funded as part of the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry’s Plant Biosecurity Response Reform (PBRR) program, led by Plant Health Australia, supported by Australian Honey Bee Industry Council (AHBIC) and all state and territory government agencies.
The NBBP is a partnership between industry and government and is funded by AHBIC through industry biosecurity levies. The NBPSP is a partnership between industry and government and is funded by Horticulture Innovation Australia (Hort Innovation), AHBIC and Grain Producers Australia (GPA).