News

Beekeepers plead guilty

By Jamie Salter

Two beekeepers from NSW have each been placed on 12-month adjourned undertakings with special conditions to pay a total of $5000 to the Court Fund for bringing diseased bees and incorrectly marked beehives into Victoria.

Both men appeared in Robinvale Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday, December 17 and pleaded guilty to several offences under the Livestock Disease Control Act 1994.

The 74-year-old man pleaded guilty to causing, permitting or allowing diseased livestock or livestock products to be brought into Victoria.

The 46-year-old man also pleaded guilty for exposing hives infected with disease and for not marking hives with his registered brand.

Agriculture Victoria senior apiary officer Joe Riordan said all beekeepers were responsible for complying with the Livestock Disease Control Act 1994 to control the spread of bee diseases.

“Interstate beekeepers bringing hives into Victoria must ensure that their hives are free of AFB prior to transportation and should be aware that their hives may be checked by Victorian apiary officers once here,” Mr Riordan said.

The 74-year-old beekeeper signed a certificate in July 2018, declaring hives he would bring into Victoria for almond pollination were free of the bee disease American foulbrood.

However once in Victoria, 84 of the 396 hives inspected by Agriculture Victoria authorised officers showed symptoms of AFB.

Of the 84, 26 were classed as ‘dead-out’, meaning no live bees were left in the hive.

The hives had been left exposed by the younger man, which allowed bees to transfer AFB spores back to their own healthy hives.

Many of the hives were marked with inaccurate brands or were not branded, which is a legislative requirement in all Australian states and territories, to ensure traceability in the event of a disease outbreak.

“If you suspect that you have AFB in your hives, you must notify an apiary officer without delay and take immediate steps to minimise the risk of spread of AFB to healthy hives,” Mr Riordan said.

To learn more about beekeeping and the Livestock Disease Control Act 1994, visit: agriculture.vic.gov.au/agriculture/livestock/honey-bees