A $1 million emergency package will provide much needed relief for Queensland’s beekeeping industry.
The package will fund the waiver of this year’s permit fees for accessing state forests and protected areas, as well as free access to a large stockpile of bee feed sugar.
The stockpile is being readied as emergency feedstock for the industry, which has had to try and cope with intense drought and recent bushfires.
Queensland honey production was down 30% last year and could drop to 70% this year despite recent rains. Production is predicted to remain low for the foreseeable future.
As well as producing honey, the beekeeping industry provides vital pollination services that are critical to Queensland’s broader horticulture industry.
The difficult conditions for beekeepers, caused by drought, have been made worse by bushfires.
Minister for Agriculture Industry Development and Fisheries Mark Furner said up to a $1 million has been allocated for this urgent drought assistance measure.
“Queensland’s horticulture is very dependent on having a thriving and viable honey bee sector,” Mr Furner said.
“Worker bees are our farmers’ great friends, pollinating crops worth hundreds of millions of dollars across the state.
“Avocadoes, macadamias, blueberries, melons, and almonds are just a few of the large commercial crops that depend on bee pollination to ensure a marketable crop,” Mr Furner said.
“The Drought Relief Assistance Scheme has already paid out over $10 million dollars in the 2019/20 financial year and recent levels of demand show no sign of decreasing.”
There are 79,000 commercial hives in Queensland and 45,000 are used for pollination.
The bee feed sugar stockpile will be distributed to QLD beekeepers in need from Hive & Wellness’ (formerly Capilano Honey) Richlands headquarters in outer western Brisbane.
Hive & Wellness chief operating officer Ben McKee welcomed the Queensland Government assistance package and said it came at a time of great need.
“This critical package will support Queensland beekeepers and their bees until the bushland recovers and can properly sustain hives again, leading to a return to regular honey production and pollination services,” Dr McKee said.
“It is great to see the Queensland Government showing leadership and investing in the state’s beekeeping and agricultural future.
“We are grateful for the time they have spent engaging with us and the Queensland Beekeepers Association to understand the issues and the kind of help required.”
Queensland Beekeepers Association state secretary Jo Martin applauded the support package.
“This announcement will provide direct and immediate financial relief to our hardworking Queensland beekeepers,” Ms Martin said.
“These site fee waivers will ensure the security of beekeeping sites, which beekeepers use as a healthy haven between pollination services.”