The Victorian Coalition Government is providing free online hive registration to hobby beekeepers with five or less hives this year.
Agriculture and Food Security Minister Peter Walsh said registration was usually $15 a year for any beekeeper with 50 or less hives.
“All beekeepers are legally required to register their hives with the Department of Primary Industries (DPI) on an annual basis, however many hobby beekeepers fail to do so,” Mr Walsh said.
“As an incentive to register, hobby beekeepers with five or less hives can register them free of charge this year via DPI’s online service.
“Registering all managed hives means DPI is better placed to effectively assist the industry should there be an incursion of the devastating varroa mite.
“If there is ever a detection of varroa, we will need to know who has hives close to the location of the incursion. Unregistered hives could compromise DPI’s response and eradication attempts.
“Australia is the only continent in the world still free of varroa, but if the pest becomes established here it will decimate our honeybee population.”
For the 2012/13 year, the fee for beekeepers with 6 to 50 hives will be $15, and the fee for beekeepers with more than 50 hives will be 30 cents per hive.
“The apiary industry makes a major contribution to the Victorian economy by providing crop pollination services to horticultural and seed crop industries in regional areas such as the Goulburn Valley and the Murray irrigation district,” Mr Walsh said.
“About 65 per cent of agricultural and horticultural production in Australia relies to some extent on pollination and many of these industries are dependent on apiarists for pollination services. The apiary industry is estimated to be worth more than $400 million to Victoria annually.”
Mr Walsh said the Coalition Government would invest $210,000 in 2012/13 to protect Victoria's valuable beekeeping industry by increasing its capacity to quickly detect and respond to the devastating varroa mite if it ever arrived in Victoria.
To register beehives, apiarists need to go to the DPI website at www.dpi.vic.gov.au and follow the prompts to ‘Bees Online’.