Biosecurity Compliance Requirements for the NSW Apiary Industry

January 2016, Primefact 1442 [first] edition

Mick Rankmore, Regulatory Specialist, Apiaries Biosecurity ComplianceGunnedah

NSW Department of Primary Industries acts in partnership with industry and other public sector organisations to foster profitable and sustainable development of primary industries in New South Wales. The department delivers a wide range of services to primary industries and rural communities. Services to the beekeeping industry include research, development, education, training, biosecurity, compliance and diagnostic.

Biosecurity compliance

The Biosecurity Compliance Services to beekeepers are provided through the Biosecurity Compliance Branch, overseen by the Director, Biosecurity and Food safety.

The Regulatory Specialist, Apiaries is responsible for coordinating compliance advice and information to beekeepers. Regulatory service delivery is undertaken via Regulatory Inspectors who monitor industry compliance in their respective regions.  

Biosecurity Compliance Officers

Biosecurity Regulatory Officers are multi-skilled inspectors and have a variety of regulatory duties to perform, including animal health investigations, plant health investigations and market access services, bee duties (including bee health investigations, nuisance bee investigations, export certification) and emergency management activities.

If your concern is of a biosecurity or compliance nature, then the beekeeping regulators should be able to assist.

Notification of a pest or disease

There are a number of serious pests and diseases of honey bees that have the potential to decimate the Australian apiary industry.

The most serious of endemic diseases is American Foulbrood (AFB). See the Fact sheet  American foulbrood

Beekeepers are required to notify the presences or suspected presences of endemic pests or diseases. 

It is important to notify AFB to ensure that the necessary actions are taken to control or eradicate the outbreak, trace the source if possible, and take measures to prevent further spread of the disease. The collection of data on the suspected AFB hot spots allows government resources to be used more efficiently.

Every new suspect or confirmed case is to be reported.

Interstate movement of bees or bee products

Each state and territory (except the Australian Capital Territory) requires health certification for the movement of bees, beehives, apiary products and used appliance.  More details see the Factsheet Moving honey bees and beehives into and within NSW - Full version

Before an inspector issues a certificate the inspector must make due inquiry that they have no reason to doubt the accuracy of the beekeeper’s declaration on the certificate. If it is necessary to confirm any information, the source apiary maybe inspected at the beekeeper’s request and expense. Inspectors will not sign blank certificates. Requests for certificates should be made well in advance, as an inspector may not be available at short notice.

Nuisance bee complaints

Written complaints about bees creating a public nuisance, a threat to public health or safety or bees interfering with the drying of fruit can be investigated by compliance officers. Note that there are specific criteria around what constitutes a ‘public nuisance’ and therefore not all complaints will fall within this remit.

Feral colonies in trees or bees in wall cavities do not constitute a nuisance bee complaint under the NSW Apiaries Act 1985. In relation to the Act, bees have to be hived and under some form of management.

If you have a complaint about bee hives or bee activity, you should first investigate all other possible solutions, i.e. contact the owner of the bee hives. If this does not produce a satisfactory result, then contact the NSW DPI Regulatory Specialist, Apiaries who is available to discuss your concerns.

For more details see Factsheet Nuisance bee complaint guidelines

Neglected and or abandoned hives

Abandoned or neglected hives of bees or hive material often become matters of concern and complaint within the beekeeping industry.

Complaints or information from beekeepers or other persons, of alleged abandoned or neglected hives must be in writing. An ‘Advice form’ is available for persons to submit the information.

Reporting of neglected hives is encouraged and will be investigated. Advice of abandoned, neglected and/or diseased apiary

Export for live honey bee certification field inspections

Market access:  Some markets require a system in place to ensure that the authorities can declare that products sent for export meet export requirements.

Compliance Officers conduct inspections of live bees on behalf of the Commonwealth Department of Agriculture & Water Resources (formally known as Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, DAFF).

The Exporter is charged a fee for this service.

Suspected exotic pests or diseases of honey bees

Exotic pests or diseases are by definition present in other countries but to date have not been identified present in Australia.

Such cases are investigated urgently, with the subsequent response directed by the NSW Chief Veterinary Officer. Compliance officers are available to assist in the detection, control and eradication of exotic diseases and pests such as varroa mite.

Suspected exotic pests or diseases can be reported by phoning the Exotic Disease Hotline which is 1800 675 888.

Application to register as a beekeeper

It is a legal requirement to be registered as a beekeeper with NSW Department of Primary Industries if you keep bees in NSW. The only exemption relates exemption relates to registered interstate beekeepers that do not have their bees in NSW for no longer than 12 weeks in any 12 month period. The registration requirement applies for both recreational and commercial beekeepers.

State Coordinator

Mick Rankmore Regulatory Specialist (Apiaries)

NSW Department of Primary Industries

PO Box 546 Gunnedah NSW 2380

Ph: (02) 6741 8374

Mob: 0402 078 963

Fax: (02) 6742 4018



Doug Somerville, NSW DPI Technical Specialist Honey Bees, Goulburn

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© State of New South Wales through the Department of Trade and Investment, Regional Infrastructure and Services 2016. You may copy, distribute and otherwise freely deal with this publication for any purpose, provided that you attribute the NSW Department of Primary Industries as the owner.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this publication is based on knowledge and understanding at the time of writing (March 2016). However, because of advances in knowledge, users are reminded of the need to ensure that information upon which they rely is up to date and to check currency of the information with the appropriate officer of the Department of Primary Industries or the user’s independent adviser.

Published by the NSW Department of Primary Industries.