In Queensland, bee keeping or apiary is both an industry and popular hobby. Bee keepers have responsibilities under the Biosecurity Act 2014 and in some cases, Council local laws. If you keep a bee hive you must register as a bee keeper with Biosecurity Queensland.
Keeping bees can present a hazard for the public so before starting a hive consider if:
- you understand the needs of bees
- your property is large enough
- the movement of bees could cause a nuisance to your neighbours.
Beekeeping is becoming increasingly popular in towns and cities throughout Queensland. This provides honey for home consumption, enjoyment in watching these social creatures and the opportunity to join in amateur beekeeping groups. However, bees possess a sting and therefore require proper and responsible management so they do not cause a problem for neighbours.
Can I keep bees?
There are prohibitions for keeping bees within Somerset Region which are listed in Schedule 1 of Subordinate Local Law No. 2 (Animal Management) 2011.
If you are permitted to keep bees on your property, you will need to comply with Schedule 5 of Subordinate Local Law No. 2 (Animal Management) 2011.
What should I consider before getting bees?
Council local laws are in place to ensure the keeping of bees on your property will not have adverse effects on neighbours and the community. Prior to getting any bees, contact Council to enquire if restrictions apply to you. Common restrictions imposed may include:
- the size of the property the bees will be housed
- the number of hives permitted (if any).
Biosecurity Queensland also has guidelines for the management of beekeeping in Queensland. These include:
- minimum standards to which beekeepers should comply
- community confidence in the safety of beekeeping activities
- a guide for the prevention and resolution of complaints
- the prescription for harmonious cooperation between beekeepers and other land occupiers.
The correct placement of hives is an important consideration for responsible beekeeping. In rural situations, many issues should be considered to minimise impact on neighbouring properties, stock or people. For example - hives adjacent to a property gate or an apiary close to a dwelling.
In urban situations, the hives must be in a quiet area of the allotment and not directly against the neighbouring property unless a solid fence or impenetrable vegetative barrier (no less than two metres high) forms the property boundary. Keep hives as far away from roads, footpaths and parks as possible.
In rural areas, apiaries should not be located within 50 metres of an adjoining neighbour’s dwellings or school bus stops.
Face the entrance of the hives in a direction that bees fly across your property. If this cannot be readily done consider placing barriers. These can be in the form of hedges, shrubs or instant barriers consisting of shade cloth fixed to a trellis two to four metres high. Bees will fly up and over these structures and should not worry neighbours.
On warm to hot nights bees are attracted to lights, particularly fluorescent. Problems can occur if windows are not screened properly, so ensure a solid barrier is erected to prevent light shining on the entrance of the hive.
Water is essential for all forms of life, including bees. As the temperature increases the number of water carriers also increases. Water is used in the hive for cooling via evaporation as well as being a vital part of the bees’ diet. The provision of water needs to be considered when placing hives as a natural source may not be suitable or reliable. If this basic requirement is overlooked or indeed disappears, bees can become a nuisance at alternative water sources (e.g. taps, hose fittings and stock watering points). Bees may die from the lack of available water so water should be provided by the beekeeper.
Disease and pest control
Beekeepers must control pests and diseases to remain viable and not infect other beekeepers’ hives. Further information is available from Apiary Officers. Beekeepers should be cautious about mixing or purchasing hive equipment unless the disease status is known.