Sometimes it can be overwhelming trying to find out what you need to do to get started with honeybees ~ apis mellifera = the dot points below will be help you navigate your way along the beekeeping journey. Reminder:- if you are not sure about something, you can contact your local beekeeping organization or state/ territory apiary officer for clarification, however, the information you need is likely contained within the education and beekeeping resources links on this website so look there first.
All persons keeping bees are required by law to register their beehives with their local state department of agriculture in Australia . It is unlawful to keep beehives that are not registered .
- #1 - Training Record - grab a blank book / folder or start a file on your computer / phone and start recording your journey i.e. from whom, what and where you obtain information so can refer back to it regularly. You will be surprised how valuable this record will become.
- #2 - Hive Visit - Its advisable that you have a site visit with a beekeeper before you get your own bees to see if beekeeping might be right for you. You do need to know what you are getting to - your local beekeeping organization can make some suggestions about whom you may be able to connect with in your area.
- #3 - Basic Beeskill references - Familiarise yourself with the craft and clinical practice of a beekeeper via bee agskills and Australian Beekeeping Guide. ( free downloadable pdf file publication or to purchase a hard copy click here ). These 2 resources will be helpful in forming your resource library so that you have them to refer to it as a hard copy. Collectively these 2 publications will help you in understanding Australian beekeeping terminology so as you continue your bee journey you have a knowledgeable point of reference, not just someones personal opinion.
- #4 - Equipment - Every beekeeper has 3 basic tools - a hive tool / a bee brush and a smoker regardless of the number of hives they work. In addition you will need some PPE ( personal protective equipment) The minimum would be face covering . Most beekeepers have a either a veil / jacket or suit . Some beekeepers wear gloves every hive visit and others intermittently depending on pollen source affecting sting potency . If you are just getting started, rubber dishwashing gloves will suffice. Just be mindful as a beekeeper, you will get a sting and no amount of PPE will stop that from happening so one of the first things you are advised to learn is how to manage is a bee sting. ( if a bee gets into your veil - then get it before it gets you and never take your PPE off near the hives). If wanting access to beekeeping equipment shipped Australia wide including rural and remote Australia click here
- #5 - Hiveware - When starting in bees 2 hives are advised rather than one, as you can compare their different traits which is a great learning tool . Situating them right alongside of each other helps protect the hives as you work the hives from the side or the back. New unused Hiveware components can be shipped Australia wide (with the exception of bees wax foundation) Your hiveware is a valuable asset and keeping it well furbished ensures you have a valuable asset for sale in the future should you want to sell . For more information or to purchase hiveware click here
- #6 - Biosecurity / National Code of conduct - keeping bees healthy and free of pests and diseases not only protects other colonies in the area but the whole beekeeping industry. To download a free copy of the Australian Biosecurity Manual for Beekeepers click here and follow the link . In addition to access The Australian Honeybee Industry Biosecurity Code of Practice click here or in the future wanting to undertake the BOLT biosecurity online training click here
- #7 - How to know what you don't know - before you undertake any education or training especially if you are paying for it then its a good idea to have something to compare it to . You have the right to understand what you are paying for and how that compares to the national standard for education . Unfortunately anyone can call themselves a beekeeping educator and charge whatever price they like for a service regardless of their beekeeping knowledge or experience. Education comes in a variety of valid and helpful forms e.g. 1:1, workshops, information sessions , beekeeping classes , videos, books etc. as well as a national accredited beekeeping course. There are 7 accredited" beekeeping course" providers in Australia. If you are paying for education and your provider is not accredited then be clear about exactly what education you are paying for and how it compares with the national standard so you can make an informed choice before you part with your cash. If your provider's name does not appear on this list click here then you are not undertaking an accredited "beekeeping course" . The 12 core units of AHC32016 is the basic minimum standard for a person to be work ready as a beekeeper in Australia . The core units provide a bench mark for beekeeping education and also assist beekeepers to identify their beekeeping skills and knowledge deficits and have a goal to work toward. You can make yourself an education plan based on the 12 core units. For further information about beekeeping standards click here . You do not have to undertake a " beekeeping course" i.e. certificate 111 in beekeeping to access the national standard information. It has always been freely available online to anyone whom is interested. Some beekeepers choose to undertake just some or two of the core or elective units depending on what skills they would like to enhance either online or 1:1. The important thing in all types of beekeeping education when paying a fee, is that you make an informed choice and realize that the level of understanding and beekeeping skill is extremely varied amongst non accredited education providers.
- #8 - Planning and being Prepared:- There is a lot of background planning and preparation before you get your bees and become a responsible legal registered beekeeper i.e. # Training Record # Hive Visit # Bee Skill References # Equipment - hive tools & PPE # Hiveware # Biosecurity knowledge and # Education goals to build your beekeeping skills knowledge and confident beekeeping practice. Then # access livestock and # register your hives with your local department of agriculture regardless of the number you have.
- At the same time you plan to get into beekeeping it is also important to consider a plan for exiting beekeeping , regardless of recreational/ part time or commercial beekeeping , Things you need to consider - going on leave / illness/ relocation etc. Put a plan in place to make it easier for your family should you no longer be able to care for your bees.
- #9 - Bees - livestock - Keeping bees is not for everyone or every situation, some people prefer to help out with club or community hives until their circumstances change or until they have built confidence in the management of bees - your learning may start years before you actually get bees .
There are multiple ways to access bees and increase you hive numbers if that is what you want to do - all have their pros and cons, so your choice needs to be carefully considered to meet your personal situation and budget. Ensure if purchasing livestock that it is from a registered beekeeper.
- ~ catching swarms - no control over genetics plus most swarms are secondary or supercedure and have been kicked out of the hive .
- ~ buying in packaged bees - cost / still need time and conditions to draw out frames.
- ~ buying in nucleus colonies - genetics?/ biosecurity - residual disease spores in frames / cost weighted to the seller not the purchase.
- ~ buying in established hives - genetics/ condition of hiveware / biosecurity/ condition of bees strength /honey stores etc. $ will always be weighted toward the seller not the purchaser.
- ~ splitting existing hives - seasonal conditions / weakens colonies / queens = ( force self queening open mating vs buying in queens or grafting own queens) genetics.
- ~ intensive brood nurseries - genetics / proven proformers / separate operation from producer hives / intensive / stationary not migratory / need to constantly provide high protein as well as carbohydrate / reduced variables but sustainable. Utalising what you already have. ( search online for sustainable apiaries for more information about this method)
- #10 - Legal requirements of keeping bees - In Australia bees are considered " livestock" and regulation of beekeeping is under the jurisdiction of your individual state or territory department of agriculture .
- Western Australia ~ click here
- Northern Territory ~ click here
- Queensland ~ click here
- New South Wales ~ click here
- Australian Capital Territory ~ click here
- Victoria ~ click here
- Tasmania ~ click here
For additional beekeeping resources links click here
BEEKEEPING LEGISLATION SOUTH AUSTRALIA
South Australia - Livestock Regulations 2013 - under the Livestock Act 1997 - Version: 19.4.2018 direct link click here
Part 2—Special provisions relating to bees
Division 1—Registration of beekeepers
* Registration of beekeepers
* Term of registration and renewal
* Change of address
Division 2—Hive identification
* Hive identification
Division 3—Health and management of bees
* Annual honey testing for American Foul Brood
* Bees must be kept in hives of an approved kind
* Exposure of hive or bee products
* Provision of water suitable to sustain bees
* Abandonment and neglect of hives
* Certain beekeepers to complete course in bee pest and disease management
* Records to be kept by beekeepers
South Australia Primary Industries and regions SA
PIRSA Beekeeping Information for All Persons keeping bees in South Australia ~ click here
PIRSA is the South Australian Government department responsible for advising the public in relation to beekeeping regulation compliance
PIRSA direct pdf file quick links below:-
- #11 - Enjoy Your Beekeeping Journey - Whilst the 10 dot points above may initially seem a bit overwhelming they will lead you to form a solid basis for your beekeeping practice - For additional beekeeping resources links click here
Best Wishes as you care for your bees to the best of your ability ~ may the reward be sweet.
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