Someone who simply places one or more beehives with bees in their backyard or orchard and leaves them unattended is not a beekeeper, but is actually acting irresponsible and illegal. It's as if someone would get a basket full of kittens and just left them to their own devices lose in the backyard.Being a beekeeper means taking care of the bees and managing their hives so that they don't spread diseases and don't become an issue for neighbours, e.g. uncontrolled swarming.When looking after two, three or four hives, beekeeping is an activity that does not require a lot of time. When starting out, assembling the hives and putting all the equipment together will require a couple of days. After that, the number of times you need to inspect your hives is about every fortnight during spring and summer. Bees look after themselves for most of the time and are independent.You will need to spend more time during the establishing period of a hive and in spring to prevent swarming. Additional time that you need to devote to beekeeping is related to harvesting honey, checking your hives for pests and diseases, and looking after the equipment.Sometimes, in particular during swarming season, you will need to schedule your activities according to your bees' calendar and in conjunction with the weather, rather than your own wishes.
Before getting started as a beekeeper you need to be familiar with the rules, regulations and obligations associated with beekeeping.Responsible beekeeping is not simply a matter of hosting bee colonies in hives and putting them in your backyard.We need to be aware of safety measures, consider other people in our society and take responsibility for everything we do.The rules and regulations associated with beekeeping are not difficult to understand and follow - although they vary slightly from state to state in Australia. The Victorian Department of Environment and Primary Industries (DEPI) has issued Agriculture notes "Ag Notes" for the various agricultural sectors, also for Beekeeping - valid for Victoria.The Agriculture Victoria website holds information about beekeeping and provides links to a number of important documents, among them:
AG1100 - Beekeeping and the Livestock Disease Control Act 1994 explains basic rules, safety measures, regulations and obligations.AG1240 - Safe Beekeeping Practices explains how to handle bees to make it more enjoyable.AG1146 - Hobby Beekeeping information for the hobby beekeeper.
The Apiary Code of Practice has been prepared to facilitate the consistent consideration of apiary activities throughout Victoria. The Code has been prepared by the Victorian Department of Planning and Community Development in consultation with the apiary industry, the Department of Natural Resources and Environment and after discussion with municipalities. Under the Code, a planning permit is not required for the use of land for an apiary in any zone provided the use complies with management and planning requirements of the Code. The Code includes types of apiculture, definition of practices, management requirements, statutory requirements and the role of government agencies.
On the horizon:
Biosecurity Code of Practice and National Bee Biosecurity Program - AHBIC Australian Honey Bee Industry Council, web Release May-2015
For the past 3 years, the honey bee industry and Plant Health Australia (PHA) have been working to implement effective biosecurity arrangements for beekeepers around Australia. The Biosecurity Code of Practice (pdf file available for download) has been developed after extensive consultation with industry and government and has been taken to industry conferences for support.
Please note that registration with the Department of Economical Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources (DEDJTR) is compulsory for all beekeepers in Victoria.The main purpose of being registered is to be in the loop for important information issued by the DEDJTR.Registration/renewal fees per annum are:
0 to 5 hives - free when registering online, $15 when sending in the registration form.6 to 50 hives - $15(fees shown above are per annum, but payable for a 2-year period)51+ hives - $0.30 per hive
New registrations can be entered online for 0-5 hives. New registrations for more than 5 hives send in the application form.Alternatively, you can contact the Bee Registrar, DEDJTR, PO Box 2500, Bendigo Delivery Centre, VIC 3554, Phone 1800 356 761
And should you no longer be able to keep bees, for whatever reason, you need to inform the DEPI about the disposal of your hives.The Bee Registrar must be notified in writing within 7 days when a hive is sold or given away. Notice of disposal forms are available from the Bee Registrar and DEPI apiary inspectors. The form is printed on the reverse side of the form 'Application for registration or renewal of registration as a beekeeper' and is also available from the DEDJTR website. Search for Disposal of Hives -or- >>download as MS Word document>>Don't just leave them somewhere and abandon them, as it occasionally happens.