The Banning Of Honeybees From National Parks
'Beekeepers may have to buzz off' by Liliana Molina The Courier-Mail, 18/11/2004

A newspaper article revealing the madness that honeybees are banned from national parks and this ban is to be extended.

THE future of the $24 million Queensland bee industry is anything but sweet, with changes to state environment legislation likely to push local honey off shop shelves and threaten ground-breaking medical research.

The state's beekeepers, who produce the second-largest amount of honey in Australia, have been stung by a 2024 deadline to get beehives out of former state forest land now classified as national park banning the presence of non-native animals.

Queensland Beekeepers Association president Rex Carruthers said producers would be unwilling to invest in new technology if the future of the industry was uncertain.

Australia's biggest packer, Brisbane-based Capilano Honey, is furious it based a $16 million investment in upgrading its Richlands factory on previous agreements with the Government indicating beekeepers could rely on access.

Besides consumers losing access to local honey, beekeepers fear the ban seriously affects the third of the state's $1.5 billion horticulture industry that relies on pollination from bees.

Also at risk is the groundbreaking research, supported by the State Government, into the medical properties of honey by Capilano Honey's subsidiary Medihoney.

Capilano Honey, chairman and Medihoney director Don Keith, a second-generation producer from Inglewood on the southern Darling Downs, said not being able to count on local honey that had a clean and green reputation, combined with the cost of importing honey, could push Medihoney overseas.

"We can get honey elsewhere, but what's the point of developing a Queensland company if we have to go elsewhere to get the honey?" Mr Keith said. "The Queensland Government has been supporting research and yet in its environmental legislation it's closing the door to production. It's desperately worrying."

State Development Minister Tony McGrady said the Government would work with industry to look at alternative resources.

But Mr Carruthers said spare land already was scarce, and bees generally needed mature trees more than 40 years old to be effective. He said the recent panic clearing by landholders because, of the Government's new tree-clearing laws also had reduced alternatives on private land.

"As Queenslanders we have a right to good high-quality food on the table for our children, and it's very unfair of any government not to look after any industry that produces good food," he said.

Honeybees were introduced to Australia in the early 1800s to cross-pollinate fruit trees.