Tips & Advice - VAA | Victorian Apiarists' Association

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Beekeeping Tips & Advice

Being a beekeeper means taking care of the bees and managing their hives.

To help you achieving this here are some tips, useful information and advice for beekeepers.

Supply of water

Remember to always make sure your bees have access to water at all sites.
If none is available you must supply it.
Bees use about one litre per hive per day in hot weather - so make sure they have enough.

Remember, it is a condition of your license to supply your bees with water.

Hive Management - Clean up sticky combs
In autumn, prior to the winter shut down, some beekeepers might be tempted to stand out their sticky combs for bees to clean up after their final extraction. Exposure of sticky combs to bees is an offence under the Livestock Disease Control Act, but apart from that it is poor management and shows little if no concern for your fellow beekeeper.

Exposure of sticky combs for clean up by robbing bees is certainly the easiest way to spread brood disease, and any cases of it detected should be reported to the apiary inspectors immediately. The apiary industry and DEPI have spent many thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours in time trying to reduce the amount of AFB in Victoria. That can all be undone by irresponsible standing out of sticky combs for robbing. The VAA is strong on this, and asks any instances of this practice reported without delay.


Hive Management - Brood Disease Inspection

It can't be stressed strongly enough, that if precautionary dosing of colonies for European Foulbrood (EFB) is part of your Autumn management, then look hard in the brood nest for signs of American Foulbrood (AFB). If the notifiable brood disease American Foulbrood is even suspected, don't treat the colony with antibiotics - eradicate it.

Final disease inspections should not be left until too late in autumn, because the bees will have the brood nest contracted, and any inspection then would be inconclusive.

Destruction of American foulbrood (AFB) infected honey bee colonies

The Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) has issued a permit which allows Victorian beekeepers and Victorian Department of Primary Industries officers to use unleaded petrol to kill diseased European honey bee colonies.

For many decades, petrol has been used to kill American foulbrood infected colonies in managed hives prior to burning the diseased bees and any infected hive material that is not able to be sterilised. The recently issued permit makes that use of petrol legal provided the conditions of the permit are followed by the user.

The permit requires that anyone who will use unleaded petrol must read, or have read to them, the details and conditions of the permit. Attachment 1 of the permit is a material safety data sheet (MSDS) for unleaded petrol, this should also be read. Unleaded petrol is classified as hazardous and extremely flammable. It is extremely important to remember that a bee smoker in operation has a fire which could ignite petrol.

The permit (permit number – PER12843) is available on the APVMA website at: 
When on the APVMA website, click on ‘permits’, Click on ‘Search for a permit’, and type in the words ‘unleaded petrol’ in the ‘Product name’ box, click ‘Search’ and then click PER12843.

Russell Goodman, Senior Apicultural Officer, DEPI Knoxfield

Bees Compensation

Beekeepers may be eligible to receive compensation if their bees and/or hives are destroyed or sterilised due to AFB. 

Compensation is not payable to an unregistered beekeeper or to a beekeeper who failed to notify the presence of field signs of AFB in his or her hives to a DEPI apiary officer. 

It is necessary for a beekeeper to notify an officer of the presence of AFB before infected bees and hive material is destroyed and/or irradiated. 
The officer will, at this time, advise on how to apply for compensation.

Compensation is paid from the Honey Bee Compensation and Industry Development Fund. The money in the fund is derived from registration fees paid by beekeepers. More information can be found on the DEPI website: 

Forest Explorer to view Apiary Sites - How to access Forest Explorer to view Apiary Sites

Zoom to the area you would like to view (the ‘Zoom’ tool is the default setting)

To view apiary sites, ensure the scale (in the lower left corner) is less than, or equal to 1:200,000

In the right side of the screen the Map Layers are listed. Under ‘Forest Activity’, click on the folder icon next to ‘Regulation’, then click on the empty square next to ‘Apiary Sites’ (NOTE: You will only be able to click on the ‘Apiary Sites’ square if the scale is less than or equal to 1:200,000).

Click ‘Refresh Map’ at the end of the Map Layers list.

Note: Permanent sites will be displayed as yellow dots and temporary sites as grey. Click on the ‘Legend’ tab in the row of tabs above the mapping tools to identify the status of the land.

Last update 3-Mar-2017
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