Hive maintenance

Proper hive maintenance can help you to minimise risks to yourself, your bee colony, your neighbours and help you to avoid paying penalties.

Fire prevention

You can minimise the risk of fires around your apiary by:

  • mowing any grass around the hives
  • clearing branches, twigs and dead grass
  • creating a 2m-wide firebreak
  • using a bee smoker around the hives before you use use a mower, slasher, weed eater or chainsaw
  • keeping your bee smoker in a fireproof container during fire season.

Seek permission from the property owner before clearing around an apiary site. Consider the Vegetation Management Act 1999 (PDF, 1MB) and Vegetation Management Regulation 2012 (PDF, 1MB) for clearing of vegetation.

Sterilising equipment

If your colonies are diagnosed with American foulbrood (AFB), you will need to sterilise or destroy infected hives by:

  • scorching - burn off all the paint on the hive with a large hot flame, sand the surface, and dip into preservative before repainting
  • gamma irradiation - use radiation in a sterilisation facility
  • heated chamber - use an electrically heated and insulated chamber containing a tray of water.

Beeswax extraction or destruction

A kilogram of wax is produced for every 60kg of honey extracted from hives. Extractors that can separate wax from honey include:

  • solar extractors
  • wax presses
  • cappings melters
  • hot box melters.

Avoid disposing of old combs, cappings or slum gum at your local rubbish dump unless it will be buried immediately. Burning is ideal for destroying old combs, wax and dried slum gum when you are not extracting the wax.

Managing working hives

Ensure your neighbours are mostly indoors before working your bees. Avoid working bees during cool times of the year, rainy weather, or when little nectar and pollen are available. In these conditions, bees become savage and start to gather stored or spilled honey. This behaviour is known as robbing.

Notification of diseases and pests

Diseases and pests of bees present in Queensland can impact hive productivity. The Biosecurity Act 2014 (PDF, 1.5MB) requires beekeepers to contact our Customer Service Centre without delay if you suspect diseases, foreign bee species or pests including:

Under the Biosecurity Act 2014, you will need to take an active role in managing biosecurity risks under your control—this is known at the general biosecurity obligation (GBO). You are not expected to know about all biosecurity risks, but you are expected to know about those risks associated with your day-to-day work and your hobbies.

As part of your GBO, you need to ensure your activities do not spread a pest, disease or contaminant. You will need to:

  • take all reasonable and practical steps to prevent or minimise each biosecurity risk
  • minimise the likelihood of the risk causing a biosecurity event and limit the consequences of such an event
  • prevent or minimise the harmful effects the risk could have and refrain from doing anything that might make the harmful effects worse.

A biosecurity risk exists when you deal with any pest, disease or contaminant, or with something that could carry one of these. This includes moving or keeping a pest, disease or contaminant, or animals, plants, soil and equipment that could carry a pest, disease or contaminant.

Last reviewed
July 1, 2016