Combing through the honey bee industry

8 December 2016

Beekeeping business cash income averaged $70,400, and was significantly higher in Tasmania, Victoria and New South Wales, according to the Australian honey bee industry report by the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES).

Acting Assistant Secretary of ABARES’ Agricultural Productivity and Farm Analysis branch, David Galeano, said the report’s survey results provide government and stakeholders with important data for analysing the industry.

“The honey bee industry is an important sector of the Australian economy, with the gross value of production estimated at $101 million in 2014–15,” Mr Galeano said.

“The industry survey found that the majority of beekeeping income came from honey sales (85 per cent of cash receipts) in 2014–15.

“Paid pollination came in second (11 per cent of receipts) and was conducted by around 44 per cent of beekeepers in 2014–15.

“Beekeeping profits generally increased with the scale of operations in 2014-15. However, average profits were negative for those with less than 200 hives.

“The report analysed use of public lands and found most honey produced came from non-agricultural private land (39 per cent) or public land (39 per cent), with 23 per cent from agricultural land.

“Larger businesses were more likely to derive a greater proportion of total honey produced from public land.

“The proportion of beekeepers and the value of payments received were higher in areas that produced large amounts of bee-pollination dependent crops, such as almonds and cherries.

“Seventy per cent of beekeepers identified drought as a challenge to honey production, and 50 per cent indicated that the use of agricultural chemicals negatively impacted floral resources available, which impacts their honey production.

“In terms of biosecurity, the most common disease and pest affecting beekeepers were chalkbrood and the small hive beetle, and the greatest financial impacts were caused by the small hive beetle and American foulbrood.”

The Australian honey bee industry report was developed through analysis of beekeeping financial and physical performance data collected from beekeeping businesses, as part of the 2016 ABARES Australian Honey Bee Industry Survey.

The survey was funded by the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, following a recommendation from the Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport References Committee report from 2014 on the future of the beekeeping and pollination service industries in Australia.

To read the full report, visit ABARES Publications.

Last reviewed: 4 November 2019
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