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Unite Beekeepers: Join Forces to Safeguard Western Australia's Bees

BICWA, 19 December 2023 by Mikey Cernotta

BICWAs support for an increase in APC Fee For Service

The Agricultural Produce Commission (APC) Fee For Service (FFS) is a mechanism in which funds are collected from WA beekeepers to support the WA beekeeping industry.

The APC Beekeeper Producers Committee administers the FFS, and funding is released for projects that align with the strategic plan under the approved functions.

Presently, the functions available to the beekeeping industry are largely focused on biosecurity, training and education.

Currently, the FFS is set at a $20 admin fee for every beekeeper plus $1 per hive they own.

This has the potential to generate around $160,000 every year for projects that align with the WA Bee, Honey and Pollination Industry Strategic Plan 2022-27.

It is fair to say that Varroa and, more broadly, biosecurity are at the top of everyone's concerns.

This is because it affects all beekeepers, big and small.

The current functions allow the industry to create and deliver projects that focus on biosecurity prevention and preparedness.

The reality is that the current FFS model is inadequate if we want to meaningfully address the challenges currently facing the WA beekeeping industry.

Compounding this, many beekeepers aren't paying their FFS, which reduces the funds available to deliver crucial projects and protect WA beekeepers.

At present, it is cost-prohibitive for the APC to chase non-payment due to the low admin fee.

Add to this non-payment the 10-15% admin fee that the APC requires to run, and the available funding left for the industry is a lot lower than $160,000.

If we continue on the path we are on, it will be almost impossible to put the best protections possible in place for WA beekeepers in the closing window of time we have.

It goes without saying that we are facing unprecedented challenges in the beekeeping industry at present.

Varroa, low honey prices, oversupply of honey and resource security are all real and have an impact on beekeepers, big and small.

The brutal truth of the matter is that beekeepers, big and small, will continue to struggle unless we are able to find funding to support and drive projects that align with the industry's strategic plan.

BICWA continues to advocate strongly to the state government on behalf of all WA beekeepers.

In a letter received by BICWA from the Minister for Agriculture dated 6 December 2023, she said: “I would also encourage BICWA to work with its member base to raise awareness on Varroa Mite and investigate possible funding avenues from within the industry to contribute to any future biosecurity response”.

Reading between the lines, we are hearing from the government right now that our future is in our hands.

A copy of that letter is available here, so judge for yourself.

Download PDF • 415KB

What this and our dealings with both the government and DPIRD since June of 2022 are telling us is that until the government sees beekeepers doing more to help and protect themselves, it will continue to be difficult for us to leverage any government assistance.

This is where the APC FFS plays a crucial role, as it is a mandatory fee collection service that benefits all WA beekeepers.

The funding can also be leveraged in many ways to maximise returns for beekeepers.

At our 2023 AGM, the Chairperson of the APC Beekeeper Producers Committee, Matt Colvin, revealed that the committee was considering a proposed increase in the FFS to a $50 admin fee per beekeeper and $5 per hive.

The BICWA board has voted unanimously to support this increase in the FFS.

Doing so will make it cost-effective to chase up non-payment and generate around $550,000 per year for projects aligned with the industry strategic plan.

This will enable stakeholders to create and deliver projects to protect and support WA beekeepers.

Critically, this also demonstrates to the government and DPIRD that we take our futures and our industry seriously.

The Invasion Curve below is a globally recognised model that shows the greatest return on investment is achieved through investing in prevention.

Investing in prevention provides economic returns up to 100x higher than trying to manage a species after it arrives.

As illustrated, our best spend of money will be made now.

With what the FFS and strategic plan have the potential to deliver for WA beekeepers, the proposed increase in the FFS is a smart move.

For a better understanding of the invasion curve, see this great animation put together by DPIRD here:

We only need to look to New Zealand for examples of how putting money up now will benefit us all in the future.

We know, based on the lived experiences in NZ and around the world, that should Varroa make its way to WA, there will be a mass exodus of beekeepers.

The hardest hit sector will be the hobbyist sector as the cost and time required to maintain hive health often overrides the enjoyment.

We also know that in New Zealand, 50% of all commercial beekeeping businesses closed post-Varroa, largely due to the combined management and treatment costs, all during a time when Manuka honey prices were very high.

WA is lucky to have a natural barrier between us and the East Coast.

We are hopeful that bolstered biosecurity and the adoption of more effective surveillance technology, supported by the FFS, will prevent or delay incursion by Varroa into our state.

While many believe it is up to the state government to provide these protections, the current government appears to have largely wiped its hands off this responsibility.

It is up to us, the beekeepers of Western Australia, to do everything we can to protect our bees.

The FFS provides an avenue to do that collectively and collaboratively, with everyone contributing towards a common goal.

BICWA strongly advocates for increasing the APC Fee For Service.

If you wish to discuss the proposed increase in the FFS, varroa or biosecurity in general, please reach out any time.

Mikey Cernotta

BICWA Vice Chair & Chair of Resource and Biosecurity Committee

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1 comentario

John Harding
John Harding
24 dic 2023

Unless you respond to proven research over 40 years, used in excess of 20 years, you will never solve your problem of Varroa in Australia.

My colonies continue to live, yes, without dying out for any reason for over 20 years.


Honeybees seek a natural phenomenon, their 'natural biological frequency' required for survival and longevity, to be 'disease-free' and 'VARROA-Resistant' as they are in the wild/feral domain.

Why are you so 'analytically-paralysed' to use proven science that your scientists will never find in a 1000 years.

I have sent hundreds of emails to solve your problem, first requested by Australian Beekeepers in July 2022 to get involved with zero response.

Are you controlled-by the Pharma Industry for a 'chemical-solution-only'…

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