Moving bees and hives

Current situation

Empty hives and hive equipment can now be moved into Queensland from the New South Wales suppression emergency zone for irradiation. This is effective 21 November 2023.

Movements still need a biosecurity instrument permit.

Queensland requires people to:

Movement records

Queensland beekeepers who wish to move bees outside their premises must create a movement record prior to that movement.

This requirement applies to:

  • buying or selling bees
  • moving colonised beehives
  • all beekeepers—registered, unregistered, commercial and recreational.

You do not have to keep a movement record if you are moving bees within your premises.

For one-off movements of bees where a permit is not required, complete the single-use record movement form.

If you regularly move bees or hives, contact the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries to request a Movement and Apiary Record book for Queensland beekeepers.

Your records must be kept readily accessible and legible for 2 years after the movement starts, and produced upon request by a biosecurity officer.

Penalties apply if movement records are not maintained or produced when requested by Biosecurity Queensland.

Biosecurity instrument permits

You must hold a biosecurity instrument permit issued by the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries to move bees, beehives, used beekeeping equipment or bee products (including unprocessed honey) into Queensland from states or territories where varroa mite has been found.

You must follow all permit conditions—penalties apply. The maximum penalty for a person not complying is a maximum of 2,000 penalty units or 1 year imprisonment.

Into Queensland

Queensland is a varroa mite biosecurity zone.

In addition to Queensland's permit conditions, you must follow movement control requirements in the states or territories that you are moving from and transiting through. Each state or territory has their own requirements for the movement of bees, bee products and used beekeeping equipment.

You can move bees, beehives, used beekeeping equipment or bee products (including unprocessed honey) into Queensland from other states or territories that are declared free from varroa mite, provided the hives and apiary equipment are quarantine-secured. Quarantine-secured transport means preventing access and escape by bees while in transit. For example, loads of hives are covered in shade cloth or netting.

From states where varroa mite has been found

You must hold a biosecurity instrument permit issued by the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries to move the following into Queensland from states or territories where varroa mite has been found:

  • bees (including queens)
  • beehives
  • used beekeeping equipment
  • bee products (including unprocessed honey).

Transiting through states where varroa mite has been found

If you're transiting through a state where varroa mite has been found, you must log a transit route avoiding the varroa mite management zones, as per the permit process.

You must not move any of the following through a varroa mite management zone:

  • bees (including queens)
  • beehives
  • used beekeeping equipment
  • bee products (including unprocessed honey).

Processed honey and processed beeswax

You do not need a permit to move processed honey and processed beeswax into Queensland if:

  • honey has been extracted, filtered, strained or settled to remove wax cappings and dead bees
  • beeswax has undergone melting, filtering (to remove bees, brood, and debris) and a rendering treatment before being packed
  • it has been packed in a facility without bees
  • the outside of the container, and any frames, pallets and packaging are free from honey or beeswax
  • it is a quarantine-secured diagnostic honey sample for testing at a recognised diagnostic facility.

Australian native bees are not included in the restrictions.

Beekeeping equipment

Any beekeeping equipment that has been used in a state or territory where varroa mite has been found will require a biosecurity instrument permit before moving into Queensland.

If you work in a state or territory where varroa mite has been found, we recommend using local equipment that remains there rather than taking your own equipment.

Used hives, supers or live bees

You need to apply for a biosecurity instrument permit to move empty hives and hive parts for irradiation treatment from the New South Wales suppression emergency zone into Queensland.

All other movements from New South Wales into Queensland are not permitted. This includes live bees, queen bees, supers for extraction, and empty or deadout hives not irradiated.

When completing the online form, under Biosecurity matter or carrier, select the relevant varroa mite carrier. If you are unable to apply online, contact us for help.

After you have submitted the application, a biosecurity officer will contact you to explain what you will need to do next.

Allow 3 to 5 working days for your application to be processed once received.

Once you have received your permit, you must comply with the conditions specified:

  • Undertake a pre-departure inspection of the load to confirm that no live bees or apiary products (e.g. excess honey, or wax) remain in the load.
  • Wrap the load in a manner that will prevent the entry or escape of bees at departure, during the journey and upon arrival at the treatment facility in Queensland.
  • Transfer the load directly to the Queensland treatment facility for irradiation, or for supers, to a recognised or permitted facility for honey extraction.

These conditions are designed to minimise the risk of varroa mite being introduced into Queensland.

Biosecurity Queensland Inspectors will undertake compliance activities to ensure that permit conditions are being met.

They may inspect the consignment of used hives, or supers at any time during the movement. This may involve inspecting documentation, the load and your permit.

You must have a copy of your permit with the consignment.

Within Queensland

You do not need a permit to move bees, hives or equipment within Queensland.

To other states and territories

Check if there are movement controls or restrictions for your intended destination before moving bees or equipment:

Transport bees safely

Always move hives and apiary equipment in a quarantine-secured manner to prevent access and escape by bees while in transit.

You need to consider:

  • the safety of the community
  • road safety traffic laws
  • the welfare of the bees.

Plan when you will stop to refuel and when you will travel through built-up areas because bright street lights and traffic signals can cause bees to escape.

There are 3 methods for moving bees:

  • open entrance
  • closed entrance
  • netted bee transport.

Open entrance transport

Open entrance transport is the most common way of moving beehives:

  • load the beehives at dusk or at night after the bees have settled
  • transport them during the night
  • unload the hives either upon arrival at your destination or at first light the next day.

Closed entrance transport

You can move beehives using a conventional station wagon or sedan, if the beehive is fitted with adequate ventilation. This method allows you to move the hive a short distance and unload it without being stung.

Move beehives at night when temperatures have cooled and all bees are at home in the hive.

Netted bee transport

Beehives can be moved at any time using nets, however it's best to load beehives at dusk or night when temperatures are cooler.

Depending on your location, you can move netted beehives during daylight hours provided temperatures are not too high.

Secure the nets around the beehives so that the bees remain contained during transit.