Beekeeping in Queensland is a small industry which makes an enormous contribution to agriculture as well as producing first class honey. Beekeeping has also become a very popular hobby with the number of beekeepers in Queensland ever growing.
Size and scope of the Queensland honey bee industry
Beekeeping in Queensland has undergone a significant transformation in size in recent years. Since 2017 the industry has increased in size by approximately 114% with more than 9,200 beekeepers now registered across the state.
The majority of growth can be attributed to the popularity of backyard beekeeping with more than 6,600 beekeepers registered as keeping between 1-4 honey beehives.
Lack of confidence within the commercial beekeeping industry has largely plagued critical growth despite the increasing demand for pollination services across Queensland. More recently statistical data reflects a renewed certainty on the future of the commercial sector in the state, with registered beekeepers who keep 1,000 hives or greater showing a growth of more than 90%.
Beekeepers keeping between 25-250 hives are often identified as the next generation of commercial beekeepers. Reassuringly recent statistics also reflect growth rates of 45% in this important sector of our industry encouraging more Queenslanders to take the leap into a career as a professional beekeeper.
Honey production in Queensland is ultimately driven by our climate, weather cycles and access to melliferous resources (vegetation producing nectar and pollen). The floral resources provided by the rich diversity of native trees and shrubs found in Queensland sustain our honey bee populations and produce world class honey.
During an average year, honey bees foraging for flora on public lands (National Parks, State Forests and Timber Plantations) produce 70% of the total volume of honey produced by commercial beekeeping operations. In 2018 it is estimated that approximately 5,800,000 kg of honey was produced through the access arrangements to public lands.
Honey production rates vary between recreational and commercial hives which is generally attributed to static versus migratory beekeeping practices. Across the Queensland industry it is estimated that a recreational hive will produce an average of 45kg of honey in comparison to a commercial hive producing an average of 100kg per year.
Although demand for pollination has increased in time, honey production still represents a significant majority of the income generated by commercial beekeeping operations.
Queensland’s reputation for producing world class honey and beeswax products gives industry the competitive edge in the world trade markets. Industry statistics approximate honey production to be valued at $64m to the state each year.
Pollination Services to Horticulture
It is estimated the Queensland honey bee industry contributes more than $2.89b to the Queensland economy each year through managed honey bee pollination services. It is estimated that more than 100,000 hives provide critical pollination services to Queensland farmers each year. Kitchen table staples such as avocados, macadamias, almonds, melons, berries, cucurbits, stone fruits and seed crops all require critical pollination by managed honey bees. Some 35 industries depend on the supply of strong, healthy bees for the production of crops.
In Queensland, avocado and macadamia pollination account for the majority of large-scale pollination events each year. Queensland produces approximately 69% of the total volume of avocados grown in Australia each year.
The majority of crop pollination occurs between the months of June and December in Queensland. Commercial beekeepers migrate loads of 120 beehives at a time, from forest to farm gate providing critical pollination services to our farming friends.
This chart (Agrifutures 2021) provides a snap shot of popular crop varieties and the volume of hives required to pollinate the crops. Even the blossom of apples requires a visit from 4 managed honey bees to set the fruit for the grower for you to enjoy a crispy and crunchy apple as a great Australian lunch box staple.
What Our Members Say About Us
Being a member of the QBA is my way of helping to support the association’s tireless efforts to ensure a viable apiculture industry in Queensland, which in turn positively impacts Australian agriculture as a whole.
Membership with the QBA allows me to be actively involved in shaping the future of beekeeping in Australia.
- QBA Member, Jacob Stevens.