Changes to the General Biosecurity Direction
With no more small hive beetles found since the second detection on 3 May 2023, Biosecurity Tasmania is implementing a staged process to ease restrictions.
Effective from Tuesday 19 September the Bee Movement Restriction Area as declared in the General Biosecurity Direction will be reduced from a radius of 10km to 5km around the original detection site. A map can be seen here: Bee Movement Restriction Area interactive map
Provided no more beetles are detected, the BMRA will be reduced further in coming weeks.
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. 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.
If beekeepers within the 5km Bee Movement Restriction Area need to open beehives for feeding, honey harvest, removal of supers or winter pack down, please contact Biosecurity Tasmania on 6165 3777 to arrange a permit.
Information on the moratorium
Biosecurity Tasmania has placed a moratorium on the opening of hives, harvest of honey and honeycomb, and movement of bees and beekeeping equipment for any beekeepers that are in the 5km Bee Movement Restriction Area as declared in the General Biosecurity Direction.
On 19 September 2023, the Bee Movement Restriction Area as declared in the General Biosecurity Direction was reduced from a radius of 15km to 5km. Beekeepers outside the 5km Restriction Area are no longer affected by the restrictions outlined in the moratorium. The moratorium will remain in place for the 5km Restriction Area until Biosecurity Tasmania is confident there are no small hive beetles in the area. All beekeepers within the 5km Restriction Area are asked to avoid opening hives during this period.
More information is available at www.nre.tas.gov.au/SHB.
What is small hive beetle?
Small hive beetle (SHB) (Aethina tumida) is a small (0.5 cm long 0.3 cm wide) brown-black beetle with clubbed antennae. The larvae of SHB cause most of the damage by burrowing into honeycombs, eating brood, honey and pollen. Whilst feeding, the larvae also carry a yeast (Kodamaea ohmeri) which contaminates the honey, causing it to ferment. Heavy infestations cause the hive to become ‘slimed out’ and may cause the colony to die or abscond. In Australia, SHB has the greatest impact in the warm and humid coastal strip between Victoria and North Queensland.
What is the lifecycle of the small hive beetle?
bee aware website for more information.
Is small hive beetle present in other states of Australia?
SHB is present throughout NSW, QLD, VIC, ACT and in parts of SA and WA. It has not previously been recorded in NT or TAS.
How did it get here?
The method of incursion is currently being investigated. SHB can spread by beekeepers moving infested beehives or equipment to non-infested areas. SHB is also a strong flyer and can fly up to 7km to find new hives and colonies.
How were the beetles detected?
Both specimens were found as part of Biosecurity Tasmania’s extensive monitoring program – this is an example of our world class biosecurity system working. Since the initial detection in early March, Biosecurity Tasmania has taken swift and decisive action, working alongside beekeepers, industry and the community to undertake thousands of beehive and trap inspections.
How do the traps work?
The trap is a plastic device, with small entrances on the sides, available for the beetles to enter when seeking refuge from bee aggression. Within the plastic device is corrugated cardboard, saturated with the poison, fipronil. As beetles come into contact with the fipronil, they die. Bees cannot access the poison, when installed properly.
How does the National Bee Pest Surveillance Program work?
The NBPSP’s primary objective is the early detection of new incursions of exotic bee pests and pest bees, to increase the possibility of eradication. It is a program that occurs at a national level and is coordinated by Plant Health Australia (PHA). The NBPSP includes a range of surveillance methods conducted at locations to be the highest risk of exotic pests. Hives (with live bees) located at these high-risk locations are funded through PHA and its partners and are known as ‘sentinel’ hives. On top of these sentinel hives, the Tasmanian government funds a number of ‘guard’ hives at the ports of Hobart, Burnie and Devonport in order to increase our biosecurity. More information can be found at
How many small hive beetles have been found?
Two adult beetles have been detected.
What are we doing about it?
Tasmania’s Chief Plant Protection Officer, Andrew Bishop, has declared a General Biosecurity Direction, which establishes a 5km Bee Movement Restriction Area around the detection site, and restricts the movement of bees and bee products within, into and out of the zone. From 21 April 2023, unfiltered Tasmanian honey can be moved into the 5km Restriction Area. Beekeepers can bring Tasmanian honey harvested outside of the Restriction Area into the Restriction Area for processing and distribution. 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. Beehives being transported though the Restriction Area (eg from Smithton to Launceston) will be able to do so under a Group Permit. The BT apiary team are also conducting surveillance on hives within the 5km radius zone through the placement of SHB traps.
What impact would a potential incursion have on bee health? What can beekeepers do to protect their hive from small hive beetle?
In its larval stage, SHB burrow into beehives consuming brood, pollen and honey, which can significantly damage the hive population and honey production. Whilst feeding, the yeast species (K. ohmeri) that the larvae carry contaminates the honey, causing it to ferment, which makes the honey look greasy and slimy and weep out of the cells.
To minimise the potential spread of SHB, beekeepers need to comply with the current moratorium.
Biosecurity Tasmania has placed a moratorium on the opening of hives, harvest of honey and honeycomb, and movement of beekeeping equipment for any beekeepers that are in the 5km Bee Movement Restriction Area as declared in the General Biosecurity Direction. The moratorium will be in place until Biosecurity Tasmania are confident there are no small hive beetles in the area. All beekeepers are asked to avoid opening hives during this period.
For beekeepers outside of the Bee Movement Restriction Area that want to move excess supers, cool rooms maintained at 10°C or less for excess supers and combs will prevent the adult SHB laying eggs and will minimise SHB larvae activity. Freezing frames and hive parts at -7°C will kill all life stages of SHB within 24 hours. A range of in-hive chemical and non-chemical options are also available to beekeepers.
How long will surveillance of the restriction area take to be completed?
Surveillance activities will be undertaken until Biosecurity Tasmania is confident that SHB is not present in this area. BT staff have been placing SHB traps in hives throughout the original 15km Bee Movement Restriction Area to understand the extent of SHB within the zone.
Can beehives in the 5km area be moved to allow pollination?
Pollinators can apply for a permit to bring their hives into the 5km Bee Movement Restriction Area specifically for the purpose of pollinating crops. Permits are free and only one permit is required per pollinator, regardless of the number of hives. Pollinators cannot enter the Bee Movement Restriction Area without a permit – penalties may apply. All hives will be inspected (when the ambient temperature allows) for small hive beetle while inside the Bee Movement Restriction Area and checked again before they leave. Permits allow hives to be brought into the Bee Movement Restriction Area and placed at orchards prior to inspection.
Hives being transported though the Restriction Area (eg from Smithton to Launceston) will be able to do so under a Group Permit.
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.
Are hives able to be moved throughout the rest of the state?
Yes. Hives outside the Bee Movement Restriction Area are not affected by restrictions and are free to move. Please remember that it is a requirement under the Australian Honey Bee Industry Biosecurity Code of Practice that records must be maintained for all hive movements (section 5.1 of the COP).
What does the small hive beetle look like?
Adult SHB are brown-black. The eggs are tiny (about 1mm long) and are pearly white. In strong colonies, eggs are laid in the crevices of the hive, while in weak colonies eggs are laid directly on brood comb. Larvae are white, 10mm long with three pairs of prolegs near the head. Once they mature, larvae leave the hive and burrow into the ground surrounding the hive to pupate.
Will the bees in affected hives need to be euthanised?
At this stage it is recommended that bees located in any hive where SHB is detected and any other hive that is located directly next to this hive be euthanised. Further euthanasia will only be considered if more SHB are detected, and it is deemed appropriate to help protect Tasmania’s bee population.
Will there be compensation if bees are euthanised?
This is still under discussion within Biosecurity Tasmania.
Will the national cost sharing arrangements outlined in the EPPRD apply to this incursion?
No, SHB is present throughout NSW, QLD, VIC, ACT and in parts of SA and WA.
What engagement will industry have in the incursion response?
Biosecurity Tasmania is working very closely with key stakeholders including Tasmanian bee associations, the Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association, Fruit Growers Tasmania and local producers. Key industry representatives are directly involved in the response team.
Can producers in the region still sell honey?
According to the current moratorium, recreational beekeepers can no longer collect, move or sell honey within the Bee Movement Restriction Area.
Should beekeepers be destroying their hives?
No, do not destroy your hives. Hive destruction will only be considered if more SHB are detected, and it is deemed appropriate to help protect Tasmania’s bee population.
Would small hive beetle survive in Tasmania?
Yes. Even though the small hive beetle thrives in humid climates, the small hive beetle can still survive in Tasmania’s colder climate. However, the beetle’s activity will be slowed.
Does small hive beetle affect wild European honey bees and bumblebees?
Wild European honey bees are the same species as the domesticated European honey bees. Therefore, they are considered to be at the same level of risk of infestation by SHB. Small hive beetle has been shown to have the ability to infest commercial bumblebee (Bombus impatiens) colonies in North America. Although the bumblebee common in Tasmania is a different species (Bombus terrestris or European bumblebee), Biosecurity Tasmania is working with the presumption that SHB may infest bumblebee colonies.
Does small hive beetle affect Tasmanian native bees?
SHB is a pest of some colony forming native bee species interstate (eg Austroplebeia native stingless bees). However, native bees in Tasmania are solitary bees not colony formers (although some do form nesting aggregations at times). It is unlikely that SHB will cause problems for Tasmanian native bees.