A note about biosecurity:

Biosecurity is about managing the risks and potential harm to our community, our environment and economy from pests and diseases. Whether you are a bee keeper with a single hive, or an apiarist with hundreds of hives, you have the responsibility to equip yourself with the necessary information on how to manage your bees to maintain their optimal health. You must be familiar with the signs and symptoms of disease or infection, and know how to act in the event you discover an infection or exotic pest. A major outbreak can spread from a single hive just as much as from an apiary with hundred of hives, bringing the potential of devastating losses to our clean, green industry. Biosecurity is everyone's business.

Starting a hive:

We get many people contacting us wanting to start a hive and like any new interest, there are some points for you need to consider before you proceed:

  • People keeping bees in South Australia must be registered with PIRSA, the South Australian Government's department for agriculture. 
  •  Bees can be kept in urban areas providing your beekeeping hobby complies with your local council policies and bylaws. Local councils differ in their approach to beekeeping.  
  •  Beekeeping is more than just putting bees into a box - it is a "craft " that has evolved with human society. Today there are legal responsibilities outlined in the South Australian Livestock Act (1997) and regulations of 2013 to which all individuals keeping bees must comply).

Selling honey:

Honey is a foodstuff and offering honey for sale is governed by legislation and food safety rules. This applies to markets, stalls, online, private sales, charitable fund raisers etc. If you keep bees and you want to sell the honey, you must comply with the following:

  • The South Australian Food Act. This is the legislative framework that provides for the safety and suitability of foods sold in South Australia. 
  • The FoodSA website is a resource for information on complying with food safety, food labelling and weights and measures responsibilities.

Keeping Bees in South Australia:

The requirements for keeping bees in South Australia amount to more than just complying with legislation. It requires bee keepers to subscribe to a code of conduct about the management and biosecurity of their hives or apiaries, even if you only have one hive. South Australia enjoys some of the healthiest bee populations in the world, but we can only enjoy the benefits of our healthy bees as long as all bee keepers adopt best practice management techniques, as enshrined in the Code of Conduct, obtainable from PIRSA Biosecurity. 

The code covers a wide range of issues, including the notification of bee disease / agents such as;


Acariasis tracheal mite (Acarapsis woodi) 
American foulbrood (Paenibacillus larvae) 
European foulbrood (Melissococcus pluten) 
Small hive beetle (Aethina tumida) 
Tropilaelaps mite (Tropilaelaps clareae) 
Varroasis (Varroa destructor) 
Varroasis (Varroa jacobsoni) 

For further information and to obtain your copy of the code, please contact:


The Department of Primary Industry and Resources 
PIRSA Animal Health Apiary Unit 
33 Flemington St.
(08) 82077900
(08) 82077902

A PDF document on best practice management of honey bees can be found at the National best management practice for beekeeping in the Australian environment.

The Australian Honey Bee Industry Council website contains valuable, industry specific information.

The Rural Industries Research & Development Corporation (RIRDC) website contains a large number of detailed publications on issues related to beekeeping in Australia. 

Additional Resourses


Bee Friendly is the new publication by Mark Leech that is very useful tool for both commercial and recreational beekeepers. Published January 2013, it's available here free as a PDF or can be purchased in hard copy


" EUCALYPTS OF SOUTH AUSTRALIA " (2013) by Dean Nicolle is a great resource for SA based beekeepers, providing a wealth of information regarding the identification, distribution, ecology and uses of 103 South Australian eucalypts.



Marty and Lachlan open a hive so you can see how a beehive works in the 2010 segment for the ABC's 'Behind the News"


An educational video showing the life cycle of bees from egg to bee.

Educational website for children

An interactive website produced by the Canadian agricultural museum as a virtual exhibit for children