Ten reasons why the Code of Practice is good a thing

The Australian Honey Bee Industry Biosecurity Code of Practice sets requirements for beekeepers that provide a framework for implementing biosecurity best practices.

The Code is part of the National Bee Biosecurity Program and was developed by Australian Honey Bee Industry Council (AHBIC) in collaboration with state and federal governments.

Recently, Peter McDonald, the Chair of AHBIC, shared ten reasons why the Code is good for beekeepers and the industry.

1. Lifts the standard of endemic pest and disease control

“The requirements for beekeepers under the Code lift the standard of endemic pest and disease control to a satisfactory minimum level,” said Mr McDonald.

For example, under the Code hives must be regularly inspected for pests and diseases. Requirements like this ensure that the practices of Australian beekeepers incorporate fundamental biosecurity principles.

2. Ensures new beekeepers will have appropriate pest and disease control

Since the Code was developed there has been a massive increase in new beekeeper numbers. The requirements of the Code mean that new beekeepers will have appropriate pest and disease control.

“Having this program in place will mean that they will be operating at a minimum standard in minimum time,” said Mr McDonald.

“This is essential as a major concern for established apiarists was the lack of pest and disease control abilities of new beekeepers.”

3. Makes additional resources available

“The National Bee Biosecurity Program, of which the Code is a part, makes additional resources available in the form of Bee Biosecurity Officers in each state,” said Mr McDonald.

The Bee Biosecurity Officers provide essential biosecurity services as well as promoting and implementing the Code.

4. Makes exotic pest testing a requirement

“The Code incorporates exotic pest testing as part of the requirements,” said Mr McDonald.

Testing for exotic pests is essential to find and identify them early and maximise the chance of eradication.

5. Supports the early detection of exotic pests and diseases

Under the Code beekeepers must regularly inspect their hives for pests and diseases and are given guidance on how often this should be done.

“It is essential to educate beekeepers what to look for so that we can identify the pest early and maximise the chance of eradication,” said Mr McDonald.

6. Promotes good record keeping

The Code obliges all beekeepers to keep legible records of biosecurity related actions and observations.

“Good records are essential to trace the source of the pest or disease quickly and effectively,” explained Mr McDonald.

“In addition, in the event of an eradication attempt and the destruction of hives, good records will enable speedy compensation to be paid to professional beekeepers.”

7. Educates and prepares beekeepers for exotic pests

“The Code is being publicised widely and incorporates exotic pest responsibilities and, in the process, beekeepers are being educated about exotic pests,” said Mr McDonald.

“A major recommendation from all countries who have had to deal with an exotic pest incursion that affects bees is that it is vital beekeepers are educated about the pest prior to arrival.”

“This also allows for easier transition to management if it is unable to be eradicated.”

8. Creates accountability

As well as introducing requirements that ensure the actions of beekeepers are biosecurity best practice, other measures like registration and assessment encourage compliance and accountability.

9. Provides a platform for the removal of Interstate Health Certificates

“When the Code is fully implemented all beekeepers will be adhering to a common standard of disease control,” said Mr McDonald.

This should remove the necessity to obtain Interstate Health Certificates in the future and facilitate cross border transport within Australia, which is an aim of the program.

10. Brings the industry a step close to a quality assurance program

The Code brings the industry a step closer to having a quality assurance (QA) program.

“The honey bee industry needs more people in QA to ensure that Australia can keep exporting a quality product and command premium prices,” explained Mr McDonald.