Almond pollination preparation 2020

The 2020 almond pollination season is not far away. The Agriculture Victoria apiary team reminds beekeepers planning to provide pollination services that it is vital to adequately prepare hives so that they are healthy and strong to work in the orchards.

Australian Honey Bee Industry Biosecurity Code of Practice (‘the Code’)

Almond pollination season provides a great financial opportunity for beekeepers, but large numbers of hives moving into one area can create an increased biosecurity risk. The Code has been designed to provide a clear framework for all beekeepers to engage in biosecurity best-practice to help mitigate the risk.

If everyone complies with the Code, the risk of disease spread is reduced and the whole beekeeping industry benefits.

It is important to note that most of the Code is now law in Victoria.

Almond pollination preparation checklist

  1. Check to make sure that your registration as a beekeeper is current and that your registered brand is clearly marked on all your hives. Check your registration details here.
  2. Ensure that all your hives are structurally sound, have intact external surfaces, and only have openings that are designed specifically for bee access.
  3. Inspect your brood regularly to check for pests and diseases. Remove any diseased or substandard hives from your load before taking them to almond pollination.
  4. Test your hives for exotic parasites (such as varroa mite) via drone uncapping and either the sugar shake or alcohol wash methods.
  5. Communicate with your broker/grower with information about your apiaries, including your expectations of your available hive numbers and their quality.
  6. Maintain records of your inspections, tests, observations and actions (such as movement) as they relate to your hives.
  7. Complete your annual honey culture test. This is mandatory for beekeepers who own 50 or more hives. To order a test kit, contact Gribbles Veterinary Pathology on 1300 307 190.
  8. To demonstrate to your broker or grower that you are compliant with the Code, provide them with a completed and signed copy of the ‘Certification of Compliance’ document. It can be found at the back of the Code.

What is Agriculture Victoria doing?

Agriculture Victoria apiary team conducting hive inspections at an almond orchard.

Agriculture Victoria undertakes disease surveillance and compliance monitoring activities aimed at reducing the biosecurity risk associated with almond pollination.

Prior to hives arriving at almond orchards, we carry out a desktop audit of beekeepers attending almond pollination to gauge compliance levels and identify those who may pose a higher risk to others. During pollination, we conduct physical hive inspections aimed at detecting and containing any disease present.

Pre-season desktop audits have started. We are also increasing our communications to help ensure that all beekeepers are aware of their responsibilities and have all the information they need to comply with the Code.

We recognise that an adequate supply of strong and disease-free hives it is vital to the success of both beekeeping and almond producing businesses. Agriculture Victoria is working with the industry to mitigate the biosecurity risk posed by high densities of hives at almond pollination.

For more information about attending almond pollination, the Code, or beekeeping in general, email your questions to [email protected]

The Victorian Government understands the critical importance of the agriculture and food sector and will ensure our farms and agribusinesses keep operating – to keep the supermarket shelves stocked and food on Victorians’ tables. The situation continues to change rapidly and we urge you to regularly check the Department of Health and Human Services website for the latest information.

Frequently asked questions for agricultural businesses and contractors are available here.


Acknowledgement: This media release was supplied by the Agriculture Victoria apiary team.