Moratorium on opening hives
On 12 March, Biosecurity Tasmania placed a moratorium on the opening of beehives, harvest of honey and honeycomb, and movement of beekeeping equipment for any beekeepers in the 15km Bee Movement Restriction Area as declared in the General Biosecurity Direction. On 21 April 2023, the 15km Bee Movement Restriction Area as declared in the General Biosecurity Direction was reduced to a 10km radius. On 3 May, a second small hive beetle was detected in East Devonport, within 1.4km of the initial detection in early March. This detection does not indicate that small hive beetle is established in Tasmania.
With no more small hive beetles found since 3 May 2023, Biosecurity Tasmania is implementing a staged process to ease restrictions. Effective from Tuesday 19 September 2023, the Bee Movement Restriction Area will be reduced from a radius of 10km to 5km – a map can be seen here: Bee Movement Restriction Area interactive map
All beekeepers within the 5km Bee Movement Restriction Area are asked to avoid opening hives during this period.
Beekeepers within the 5km Bee Movement Restriction Area can open beehives for feeding, honey harvest, removal of supers or winter pack down, by contacting Biosecurity Tasmania on 6165 3777 to arrange a permit.
See the moratorium webpage for specific details on these restrictions due to the moratorium.
Current response information
Biosecurity Tasmania is implementing a range of actions to ensure pollination in the greater Devonport area will continue for the upcoming season with minimal interference and minimal risk of the potential spread of small hive beetle.
Pollinators can apply for a permit to bring their hives into the 5km Bee Movement Restriction Area specifically for the purpose of pollinating crops - to apply for a permit please contact Biosecurity Tasmania on 03 6165 3777.
While only one permit is required per pollinator, regardless of the number of hives, hives cannot enter the Bee Movement Restriction Area without the pollinator having a permit – penalties may apply. Permits allow hives to be brought into the Bee Movement Restriction Area and placed at orchards prior to inspection.
Response officers will inspect all existing hives within the 5km Bee Movement Restriction Area and will work to reduce the Area. If no more small hive beetles are found, the vast majority of pollination hives would then be outside the Area and no longer be subject to any movement restrictions. Due to bee welfare, hives cannot be opened until the ambient temperature reaches 15 degrees Celsius. Weather permitting, it is estimated all existing hives and incoming hives for crop pollination, will be checked by the end of October.
If more small hive beetles are detected, pollination hives may have to remain within the Bee Movement Restriction Area until the area is cleared. If this is the case, hives may be moved to a designated location post pollination to avoid crop spraying harming the bees. Biosecurity Tasmania will work with pollinators and producers to achieve this with minimal disruption.
Small Hive Beetle Detections
Biosecurity Tasmania continues to investigate the detection of two small hive beetles in East Devonport. Both specimens were found as part of Biosecurity Tasmania’s extensive monitoring program – this is an example of our world class biosecurity system working.
Biosecurity Tasmania has enacted emergency management protocols including extensive hive and site inspection within the Restriction Area. This approach is designed to protect the health of Tasmania's bee population and our honey and pollination sectors.
Small hive beetle, which originates from Africa, is present in all Australian states except the Northern Territory and Tasmania. In its larvae stage, small hive beetle burrows into beehives consuming brood, pollen and honey, which can significantly damage the beehive population and honey production.
Tasmania's Chief Plant Protection Officer, Andrew Bishop, declared a General Biosecurity Direction, which established a 15km Bee Movement Restriction Area around the detection site and restricted the movement within, into and out of the zone. On 19 September 2023, the Bee Movement Restriction Area was reduced to a radius of 5km.
General Biosecurity Direction (Small Hive Beetle) 19 September 2023 (PDF 261Kb)
Unfiltered Tasmanian honey can be moved into the 5km Restriction Area. Beekeepers can bring honey harvested outside of the Restriction Area into the Restriction Area for processing and distribution under a group permit.
CPPO Group Permit GP2 GD3 SHB 09 23 (PDF 63Kb)
Members of the public can also bring raw Tasmanian honey and honeycomb purchased outside of the Restriction Area back into the Restriction Area for consumption.
Note: The harvest of honey and honeycomb is still not permitted within the 5km Restriction Area.
Hives and bee equipment originating outside of the Restriction Area may be able to transit through the Area (eg from Smithton to Launceston) under a group permit.
CPPO Group Permit GP GD3 SHB 09 23 (PDF 62Kb)
The following info sheets have been developed and will be updated as required:
SHB Info sheet - Beekeepers 19 September 23 (PDF 378Kb)
SHB Info sheet - Producers Ag and Hort 19 September 23 (PDF 378Kb)
SHB Info sheet - General Public 19 September 23 (PDF 371Kb)
SHB Info sheet - Retailers 19 September 23 (PDF 372Kb)
Please see the Frequently Asked Questions page for more information.
Small hive beetle
Small hive beetle (SHB), Aethina tumida (Murray), was discovered in hives at Richmond, New South Wales in late October 2002. Prior to this date SHB was not known to exist in Australia. It is now present throughout Qld, Vic, the ACT and in parts of SA and WA.
Further information on SHB can be sourced on the 'BeeAware' webpage (now the go-to pest and disease reference site).
Small hive beetle larva
Division of Plant Industry,
University of Florida
Small hive beetle - adult dorsal view
(Click on the image to see a larger version)
Copyright: Jeffrey Lotz, Division of Plant Industry,
Florida Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services
Adult SHB are broad flattened beetles about 5-7 mm long and are dark brown to nearly black in colour. Larvae are elongate white grubs. Pupae are white to brown and are found in soil beneath the hive. Stages from egg to adult takes 38-81 days with five generations a year. Adults and larvae inhabit hives where they feed on stored honey and pollen, damaging combs and killing broods. Honey ferments and bubbles out of the cells. The damage caused by SHB in the Western Hemisphere is so severe that thousands of hives are killed by it each year. Also see the following related link:Embargo on Beekeeping Equipment
Compulsory beekeeper registration
Registration is now compulsory for all current Tasmanian commercial and recreational beekeepers. Registration is one of the best measures to prevent the spread of unwanted pests and diseases as it allows Biosecurity Tasmania to readily trace and contact beekeepers in the event of an incursion.
Current Tasmanian beekeepers must register with Biosecurity Tasmania. Beekeepers who previously registered voluntarily with Biosecurity Tasmania will need to re-register with the new system. Previous registration will not be automatically transferred.
Penalties may apply for failing to register if you currently keep bees either commercially or recreationally. There is no cost to register, and registration will remain free until 31 March 2025.
For more information or to register visit www.nre.tas.gov.au/beekeeper-registration.
Biosecurity Tasmania contact information
Biosecurity Tasmania: (03) 6165 3777
If you are inside the Bee Movement Restriction Area and have moved your hives or removed any elements of a beehive since 8 March 2023 or in the four weeks prior, please notify Biosecurity Tasmania and provide updated location details.
If you are within the 5km Restriction Area and believe you must open a hive for any reason, please contact Biosecurity Tasmania on 6165 3777
If your business is affected by these restrictions, please contact Biosecurity Tasmania and we will work with you to minimise the impact on your business.