Hives, vehicles and equipment

Movement of hives

The movement of hives for a honey flow or pollination contract can easily spread pests and diseases to other regions or apiary sites. Adopt the following management measures to reduce this risk.

  • Minimise hive movements where feasible, and understand the stress that is placed on honey bee colonies that are regularly moved.
  • Ensure that hives, honey and apiary equipment are secured and covered to prevent robbing by honey bees.
  • When moving hives to a new location, assess any disease threat posed by possible abandoned or poorly managed hives nearby.
  • Always obtain a health certificate which has been signed by an apiary inspector from the state or territory of origin before moving hives interstate.
  • Find out which established pests are reportable for the region you are moving from, and to. If detected, contact the local department of agriculture

Movement of honey bee products

Each state and territory has different restrictions on the interstate movement of honey and honey bee products such as wax, propolis and pollen. Before moving any of these products interstate, always contact the local department of agriculture for advice on any specific health certification requirements.

Movement of vehicles, machinery and equipment

Vehicles and all apiary equipment, including forklifts, trucks, hand tools and bee boxes can carry pests and diseases in adhering honey and wax. Pests and diseases can then spread, or be introduced to a previously clean apiary.

  • Take the following measures to reduce the risk of pest and disease entry on equipment and vehicles:
  • Clean and wash down vehicle trays of honey, wax and associated colony debris, especially after visiting other apiaries.
  • Limit the movement of vehicles within the apiary.
  • Always make sure that borrowed and second-hand apiary equipment and machinery is cleaned and sterilised before moving into the apiary.
  • Regularly clean and sterilise all tools and equipment, including hive tools, gloves, pallets, boxes and any other equipment used in the apiary.

While inspecting and cleaning machinery can seem onerous, remember that it is easier and cheaper than dealing with a new pest or disease.

Movement of vehicles and apiary equipment between properties

As well as ensuring good honey bee hygiene, beekeepers who travel to farms or properties need to consider farm biosecurity for other primary producers or to the natural environment.

  • Pests, diseases and weeds carried in soil, apiary equipment, on vehicles, clothing and boots can introduce pests that are very damaging for other agricultural industries or to native vegetation.
  • Always consider farm biosecurity when entering a property.
  • Be aware of other industries’ biosecurity risks and requirements.
  • Adopt a ‘come clean, go clean’ policy wherever possible.
  • Talk to the landholder about areas that have been visited or any specific biosecurity concerns that apply to their property.

For more information on farm biosecurity go to

Important reading

Australian Beekeeping Guide (2014) Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation Publication No. 14/098