January 2001

Honey  - Australia's Liquid Gold

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The Honey News Archives

Voluntary Contributors to AHBIC

AHBIC wishes to thank all those who contribute to the support of the organisation. It would be prudent,
when purchasing queen bees or selling honey, to consider supporting those who support the industry and
conduct price comparisons on that basis. A list of all current contributors appears below.

AB’s Honey

Australian Rain Forest Honey

Australian Honey Bee Improvement Programme

Australian Sungold Queen Bees

Beeline Queens

Bush Honey

Bradbury, GN and DJ

Capilano Honey Limited

CE Mills

Chiltern Honey

Coopers Fine Foods

Dewar Apiaries

Hunter Valley Apiaries

Koonoomoo Apiaries

R & E McDonald

R. Stephens

RC & DJ Phillips Pty Ltd

Pollination Association of WA

Swan Settlers

T & M Weatherhead

Walkabout Apiaries

Weerona Apiaries

Wescobee Limited

Health benefits identified following discovery that the oil in Eucalypt pollen is mostly linoleic acid.

Recent research funded by the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation in Western Australia by Agriculture WA researcher Rob Manning has examined several endemic Eucalypt pollens for amino acids, vitamins, minerals and fatty acids.

The identification of the fatty acid composition in pollens has shown for the first time that eucalypts have a high level of the fatty acid - linoleic. When compared to other pollens that have been examined overseas, eucalypts are dominant in linoleic though the percentage oil in pollen is lower than for most other species.

Linoleic acid is known as an essential fatty acid in human health. The human body cannot manufacture linoleic acid and therefore it has to be consumed. It is found in most foodstuffs at various concentrations. This new finding that eucalypt pollen fats are dominated by linoleic fatty acid should be exploited so consumers can be aware of another benefit from consuming pollen. As a polyunsaturated fatty acid, linoleic acid helps lower the ratio of low density lipoproteins (LDLs) to high density lipoproteins (HDLs). The LDLs (known as the "bad" lipoprotein) carry fats such as cholesterol from our liver to our cells whilst HDLs carry cholesterol from our cells to our liver to be excreted as bile into the intestine.

Other benefits included the high levels of minerals such as potassium, phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, iron, manganese and copper compared to the same 100 grams of apple, eggs, chops, potato, fish, chicken and bananas as examples.

As far as protein goes it ranges from 20 to 28% depending upon the tree species and includes the 17 amino acids for good nutrition and dominant in the amino acid - proline.

The other interesting possibility is the link that USA researchers have found between linoleic acid (particularly) and others such as myristic, linolenic and lauric fatty acids on the inhibition of American Foulbrood and European

Foulbrood diseases. In laboratory tests, these fatty acids have been shown to be strongly antimicrobial. The interesting thought is whether eucalypt pollens play an important role in assisting the honey bees in keeping their cells sterile (because of this fatty acid) and perhaps in keeping the bacteria and fungi levels to a minimum within the hive. After all, how many beekeepers have noticed that pollen pellets are placed somewhat randomly amongst the brood cells for awhile?

There are more questions than answers at the moment. In the following graph, pollen from Western Australia's eucalypts show them to be high in linoleic acid. Redgum pollen is also dominant in linolenic and myristic acids when compared to other eucalypt species and theoretically would be more potent from the antimicrobial aspect. Anecdotal evidence suggests that redgum is a pollen very much in demand for use as feedback to bees when conditions are poor, in building hives or queen bee production. Interest from consumers might now occur and with the increased demand from this new discovery Pollen trapping and export could be a profitable business for more beekeepers.

Click here for Larger Table view

Out of the many pollens examined for fatty acids, Eucalypts have one of the highest linoleic acid compositions (arrowed).

The Redgum - Corymbia calophylla

Training Courses Available for Beekeeping

(1) The Open Training and Education Network - Distance Education (OTEN-DE) provides a course in beekeeping. The aim of the course is to improve the knowledge and skills needed to set up and operate an apiary. The course is aimed at hobby beekeepers, part-time farmers and commercial beekeepers. The course is offered as a distance education course and all the learning materials are provided by OTEN as part of the enrolment.

Questions about specific details of the course including cost may be directed to: MS ROSIE STERN on
02 9715 8540

(2) NSW Agriculture has set dates for two residential courses in beekeeping to be held at CB Alexander Agricultural College "Tocal" at Paterson in the Hunter Valley.

Beekeeping - 11/12 August 2001
Queen Bee Breeding - 17/20 September 2001.

For further details contact MRS KIM GRIFFITHS on free call 1800 025520

Bull Bars

Information obtained by FCAAA from the State Minister for Transport’s office indicates that NSW has proposed to develop a standard for bull bars for vehicles and not an airtight ban. At present it appears that there is no standard for bull bars.

It was suggested that certain types of bull bars may be recommended for certain types of vehicles eg big ones for big vehicles and small ones for small vehicles and not vice versa. It would appear that the next meeting of State Ministers is proposed for May this year. They have offered to keep us advised of progress.

If you should have additional information on this matter, please advise Harold Ayton, Secretary FCAAA on 03 6425 2089.

Australian Plague Locust Commission – Locust Management Advice

General Situation

The APLC expects to commence aerial control of locust infestations in far southwest Queensland and far northeast South Australia in the very near future. Ground and aerial surveys have identified significant populations of Australia plague locusts in these areas.

These infestations have probably arisen from subsequent breeding of residual summer/autumn 2000 populations. Eggs from that generation would have resumed development after improved soil moisture levels following significant late spring/early summer rain.

Vegetation conditions are generally drying rapidly with suitable refuges contracting back into drainage areas. Some mortality of younger insects is likely but most have already fledged and are mobile enough to locate refuge areas and survive. This should facilitate gregarious behaviour and create worthwhile swarms that will warrant control.

Significant mortality, from drying conditions, appears to have occurred in the White Cliffs region. The residual population will continue to be monitored but is not a threat at present.

Slightly younger populations exist in the general Innamincka region and they will also be monitored for swarm development and possible control operations.

An older infestation exists in the northern and eastern areas of the Flinder’s Ranges. The scale and density of the current population does not warrant management intervention at this stage, however, samples of egg development indicate that laying has, or will soon, take place. Control of the subsequent generation may be required in late January to February 2001.

Locust Control Operations in the Near Future


Australian plague locust


  • Management intervention is expected, initially, within the region approximately bounded by: ‘Bransby’ – ‘Orient’ – ‘Conbar’ – ‘Karmona’, west of Thargomindah (Qld)
  • Subsequent locust control operations may also be required in an adjacent region, approximately bounded by: Innamincka – Bellera (Oil and Gasfields) – ‘Lake Pure’ – ‘Cordillo Downs’, north and east of Innamincka (SA) after further evaluation
  • Management intervention may also be necessary (late January – February) to control a further generation expected to arise from current egg bearing adults in the northern Flinder’s Ranges (SA

Anticipated Commencement:

January 10, 2001

Anticipated Duration:

Initially up to, approximately, 1-2 weeks (may be intermittent and dependent on a variety of factors)


Aerial application of ultra-low volume (ULV) insecticide


Consultation with landholders will take place before any operations on or near their property. Post-operation advice will be provided on request

Australian Plague Locust Commission

Honey Levy

Honey Levy is used to fund research and development activities of the Honey Industry as well as residue testing of honey. The levy is imposed under Commonwealth Legislation and its payment is compulsory. The Levies and Revenue Service (LRS) is a part of the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry – Australia (AFFA) and is tasked with the collection of the Honey Levy.

While the levy is actually paid by the producer of the honey, due to the requirements of the legislation it is normally collected and forwarded to the LRS by the first purchaser (eg the packer). The current rate of levy is 1.05 cents per kilogram.

First purchasers, buying agents, selling agents, exporters and people using honey to produce other goods must lodge returns on a monthly basis within 28 days after the end of the month in which the honey was sold or used if the total amount of honey used and/or sold in the month is in excess of 50kgs. Producers who sell or use in excess of 600kgs of honey in a levy (calendar) year must lodge an annual return by the 28th February of the following year.

Producers and all other persons dealing in honey must keep records of their dealings in honey and must make these records available to authorised officers of the LRS upon request.

There are various offences imposed under the legislation relating to the failure to lodge returns, keep records, etc. Late payment of the levy incurs penalty at the rate of 2% per month compounding.

The Levies and Revenue Service has regional offices in Queensland, NSW, Victoria (also covers Tasmania) and South Australia (also covers NT and WA) which employ Investigations Officers who conduct routine field audits and when the need arises investigate offences committed under the legislation. Staff from these offices are available to answer queries from levy payers and other interested parties.

Freecall numbers for the regional offices are as follows:
New South Wales 1800 626 103
Queensland 1800 647 801
South Australia 1800 814 961
Victoria 1800 683 839

NB. This article only provides an overview of the provisions of the Honey Levy. Should you require further information please contact your regional LRS office.



(Kybybolite is a very small town located between Frances and Hynam, north east of Naracoorte, SA)

COST: $10.00 (to cover cost of notes prepared for the day)
FOOD: Bring your own everything

  1. Leaf Cutter bees Ron Bitner, International Pollination Systems Oregon, USA

    Research Sugar Syrup Feeding on Kiwi Fruit in New Zealand
    (honey bees)

    Doug Somerville, Agriculture NSW
  2. Stimulating Honey Bees Ian Oakley, Apiarist
    for Lucerne Seed
  3. Feeding Sugar Syrup Growers’ Panel
    Bruce Burns, Victoria; Nick Hawkins, Victoria;

    Phillip Bradley, Sth Australia
  4. Visit to a lucerne crop.
  5. Closure

Background – Information taken from Ron Bitner’s International Pollination Systems web site, www.pollination.com

In Australia, the honey bee is used in alfalfa seed production. The honey bees, however, find other floral sources more attractive during the alfalfa bloom. In particular, Eucalyptus is very attractive to honey bees. There have been several importations of the alfalfa leafcutting bee, beginning in 1987. IPS and Pioneer Hi-Bred has been working with CSIRO and AQIS to develop protocols to ensure that future importations are disease and parasite free. Additionally, IPS is working with native Australian bees to find other potential crop pollinators. IPS is also helping develop integrated pest management (IPM) strategies for alfalfa grown for seed in Australia

Profile of Dr Ron Bitner

Dr Ron Bitner has more than 25 years experience with non-apis bee biology and with large scale pollination management programmes. His doctoral thesis, Ecological Management of the Alfalfa Leafcutting Bee, Megachile rotundata, is the basis of the IPS multi-generation management system, which allows for extended usage of the leafcutting bee during a single season. His close relationship as a consultant to Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Inc. gives IPS access to a company that produces seed globally. Dr Bitner is a past President of the Northwest Alfalfa Seed Growers Association and technical advisor to the Idaha Alfalfa Seed Commission. He works closely with several agriculture leadership programmes, helping to bring to the grower community a new sense of professionalism.

Update from Honey Bee Research & Development Committee (HBRDC)

HBRDC met on the 2nd and 3rd November 2000 in Canberra. The committee invited a few researchers to look at developing a new project on nutrition. There is a new technique called near infrared reflectance spectroscopy for analysing a substance. This project will look at developing the method to analyse pollen and nectar in a very cost effective way. It is also hoped it can be developed to analyse a bee for protein etc. The other part of the proposed project is to look at developing the use of caged bees to feed various diets.

Russell Goodman and Ben McKee attended and gave a report on their project EFB & OTC Residue. There seems no doubt that any method of feeding OTC for EFB is likely to cause a residue problem in the honey and depending on the storage temperature the residue will persist for 12 months. In this research Ben McKee is doing a trial on various supplements to see what effect they have on the development of EFB.

In some recent work by Rob Manning he reported that fatty acids exist in pollen but in various percentages. We are disappointed that some beekeepers are trying to control AFB with various substances without any research to back it up.

The committee is very interested in the prospect of using one of the fatty acids for the possible control of EFB. We have asked Michael Hornitzky to develop a proposal to show in the laboratory what effect the fatty acids have on EFB and AFB bacteria. This is the first step, then HBRDC will do a field or laboratory trial.

Research CD’s

Russell Goodman prepared a volume of material on pollination of various crops. The project has not yet been published in hard copy but Keith McIlvride has put the manual onto CD. It is an excellent work and would be very useful for grower or beekeeper. To obtain a copy write to M James, RIRDC PO Box 4776 Kingston 2604.

Another CD is being produced which will contain abstracts of projects from 1980 until today. Also the full final reports as soon as they can be put together. The CD will then be updated on a regular basis.

We had earlier advised that the CD would be ready for release early November but a few of the final reports are not yet ready. There are two excellent reports one on the use of wax dipping and the other on barrier controls. As the use of colour on the CD is best some of the photos are being redone. The industry will be notified when this CD is finally available.

Update on Pollination Benefits

Rod Gill’s paper on the value of pollination has been a very valuable document for the industry in negotiating with government. The committee at its November meeting assessed two preliminary proposals to redo this work..

A Canberra firm, Centre of International Economics (CIE) was chosen to develop a full application. It was further decided that a committee should assist CIE to fully understand what the industry needed. AHBIC was contacted for someone to represent industry at this meeting. Bob McDonald and Greg Roberts will be representing AHBIC at the meeting which will take place in Canberra on the 8th March..


The new committee commenced its three year term on the 1st July 2000 and has been unusually busy ever since. A large number of projects have recently finished and the final reports have to be read and approved by the committee and then a decision taken on how they are to be published.

Keith McIlvride


Crop Report – New South Wales

In general Paterson’s Curse was a failure with little honey being produced, however, a fair crop was produced in the south of the state on Paterson’s Curse and blue weed.

In the central west, green mallee produced a good crop of honey – most likely the best so far this season.

On the south coast and some patches on the north coast, grey ironbark produced some good crops.

Red stringy bark is starting to yield in the central west and is starting to flower in the south. In most cases rain is needed to ensure a very good flow.

There is some good bud on spotted gum on the south coast but not all areas are budded.

Stock Report – New South Wales

Honey in general is in very short supply especially light honey. Many packers from interstate are looking for honey in the central west.

Eddie Podmore


After a short break, I am back in the saddle.

Illegal importation case

I have been informed that a summons has been issued in relation to the alleged illegal importation of queen bees into Australia and a concurrent charge of allegedly illegally exporting queen bees. The case is set down for February.

It is hoped that the courts, in the advent of a conviction, will take a serious view of the alleged actions and impose an appropriate sentence.

Grass Roots magazine article

My attention was drawn to an article in the Grass Roots magazine where a treatment for mites and wasps in beehives appeared. It was attributed to a lady in New South Wales. I contacted Bruce White who went to see the lady.

It transpired that she did not write the article and upon Bruce’s checking with the editors of Grass Roots, it seems the article was wrongly attributed and may have originated from overseas.

As a result of the article, Ian Peebles from AFFA is preparing an article for the Grass Roots magazine to let the readers know that we do not have destructive mites, bees can only be imported through Wallgrove and our quarantine dogs can pick up bees being smuggled, as was the case recently.

Our thanks to Bob McDonald in Townsville who gave me the details of the article, Bruce White for his actions in following it up and Ian Peebles for preparing the article.

Exports of live bees to the USA

Still no real action on this. It seems the USDA is stalling this and I imagine the change in Administration in the USA will not help at this time.

It I hoped that we can get some action in time for the 2002 season.

Port surveillance

Beekeepers are asking questions as to how this is progressing. I have sent a serious of questions to members of my Quarantine Sub-committee on how it is progressing in their State.

I should be able to let members know what is happening in the next newsletter.


To date there have been no incursions of Asian bees but having said that it will probably put the mockers on it and we will get some.

Recently a swarm of Apis mellifera was picked up in Melbourne ports but it seems it may have originated locally. The boat had come from the USA. Tests were being carried out for mites but, as I have heard nothing, I assume they were negative.

Exotic Animal Disease Preparedness (EADP)

Late last year, Ray Phillips and I attended an EADP Workshop run by Animal Health Australia (AHA) in Canberra. There were representatives from all member bodies in attendance.

It was obvious to both Ray and I that, other than maybe chicken meat, there are no other industries that are as well prepared as we are. A report has been sent to AHBIC Executive for their information and action.

Trevor Weatherhead

Crop Report – Tasmania

Early to mid-December, weather conditions were full of promise for the white honey crop (ground flora, usually clover and blackberry) although pasture drying especially in the south where prickly box and pollination were holding bees in reasonable hive populations. The forecast for a white Christmas was not to be believed we thought, but for once they were right! Up to ten days of cold, blizzard like winds and snow on the mountains put an end to the white honey.

The weather cleared and the bees began again. Very poor to average crops of honey have been reported. With very few exceptions, the colour is only medium as the hives mainly worked prickly box and dandelion. Extra white and white honey is non existent.

One beekeeper moved to the leatherwood forest which had begun to flower early. The Christmas storm had a devastating effect on blossoms and hives. However, as the leatherwood trees developed their full potential, it is reported as the best flowering seen for many years. Most hives has now been moved to the rain forest areas of the west coast where Eucryphia Lucida thrives. Although inclined to be dry, the hives moved early are producing well. The next three weeks are crucial for a successful production season.

Next month’s report will reveal quality and quantity. Prospects for bulk honey sales do not appear to be very promising, especially for the premium price leatherwood honey should command.

Shirley Stephens

Crop Report – South Australia

Extremely hot and dry conditions are being experiences throughout the state, resulting in some loss of hive strength.

South East: (Upper) Patchy budding of stringy bark. More rain is needed for banksia and potato weed (the existing potato weed is drying off). Some irrigated lucerne finished early, the balance is expected to finish earlier than usual. Rain is urgently required. Production has been below average to average, to date. Those on oranges earlier had a reasonable year.

South East: (Lower) Extremely dry – very little honey produced in this region this season.

West Coast: (Upper) The red mallee with its light flowering was producing before the extreme heat. Prospects: The tea tree is well budded and beginning to flower.

West Coast: (Lower) Mallee is producing, inland tea tree is very good, coastal tea tree is patchy, the little red mallee is promising. There is no Lincoln weed owing to the dry conditions.

Northern: (Upper) Nothing to report other than there is some budding on grey box.

Northern: (Lower) Rover box yielded, Euc. oleosa and Euc. socialis in mallee region, patchy – some yield.

Kangaroo Island: Disappointing summer. Broom bush looked magnificent/yielded no nectar or pollen. Bees depleted stores to a serious level in many instances. Sugar gum was slow to start, but there are some promising signs. Prospects: Stringy bark well budded, later than usual in flowering. Cup gum is very well budded.

Riverland: Dryland tea tree heavy in flower but not yielding. Paddy melons and potato weed are flowering. Euc.foecunda is starting to flower. Prospects: White mallee is starting to bud.

Kay Lambert

Crop and Stock Report – Queensland

Conditions in Queensland have not improved as was hoped following November rain. There are no major honey flows in the state. Interest will focus on keeping hives alive! Narrow Leaved Ironbark and Yapunyah are the crops to watch but both are well down the track. Brush Box, Coolibah, Yellow Stringybark and Grey Ironbark all failed to produce. Small areas of Tea Tree and Bloodwood may offer some build conditions.

Many Queensland honey producer gambled on moving into NSW in the hope of securing a crop, success varied. Many have expressed their gratitude for the advice and assistance given them by southern producers who had heard of the severe honey shortage in Queensland. Most are now returning to Queensland due to the lack of country available for them on Red Stringybark and Bloodwood in NSW. The future for many is very bleak and recovery will take a few good seasons. This is the third year in a row of poor honey production.

Stock held by beekeepers remains low.

Bill Winner

Crop Report – Western Australia

The honey flow in Coolgardy, eastern wheatbelt has finished and a lot of beekeepers have shifted back onto some powder bark or their redgum sites. The ones who stayed have been very busy controlling a bushfire that has been burning since December with about 100,000 hectares already burnt and a lot of bee sites along the way.

The red gum is starting to put buds on but does not look to be as promising as last year as we are still having very little rain. Beekeepers in the south report that bees are working the peppermint and the forest blackbut looked quite good along the coast.

The Karri may be able to be worked in some areas but reports are that it is very patchy.

Kim Fewster

AQBBA Report

In January, the Australian Queen Bee Breeders Association brought Susan Cobey from the USA to teach two classes of beekeepers instrumental insemination of queen bees – one class in New South Wales and one class in Queensland.

Sue works at Ohio State University and has run a bee breeding programme with Carniolan bees for the past ten years. The 200-300 hives are all stocked with artificially inseminated queens.

Sue also addressed a meeting at Kurri Bowling Club. A comment that Sue made at the meeting was "Australia is a lucky country to be free of mites and chemicals!!"

Beehives in USA are under constant pressure from mites and over-use of chemicals. Hives no longer boom and swarming is not a problem.

The AQBBA hope that the skills that members learned from the classes will enable them to improve breeding stock and start their own breeding programmes.



To be held at the Airport Motel and Convention Centre
33 Ardlie Street, Attwood, Victoria
on Saturday 17th March and Sunday 18th March 2001.

These dates include a Media Training Day
on Saturday 17th March, 2001 to be followed by
an AHBIC Council Meeting on Sunday 18th March 2001

Please note these dates in your diary

Food Standards Code What will the lables look like?

food lable