Beekeeping in Tasmania

Tasmanian Beekeepers Association / Beekeeping in Tasmania

Tasmanian Apiary Industry Summary

European bees were first successfully introduced into Tasmania in 1831 and the first Italian bees were introduced in 1884. The industry produces honey, beeswax and provides pollination services to the seed and fruit growing industries.

Approximately two-thirds of Tasmania’s honey production is from leatherwood blossom. The remainder includes honey types such as clover, blackberry Manuka and gum. The leatherwood flow is from early January to April and is the basis of the commercial industry in Tasmania.

Leatherwood grows in rainforest in the south west areas of the State largely within regions managed and controlled by State Government authorities as either production forests or the World Heritage Area.

Leatherwood honey has a strong flavour and particularly distinctive aroma. It is unique to Tasmania and has established a worldwide reputation as a distinct honey type.

Source: Tasmanian Department of Primary Industry, Parks, Water and Environment.

Industry Structure

Production Sector

Production levels have peaked relative to available natural nectar resources. The following table shows the total number of beekeepers and hives per beekeeper for 2015-16. The figures are derived from official registration figures, and the great majority of these beekeepers are part-timers or hobbyists.

Statistic: Number of hives per beekeeper, 2015-16







1 - 5



6 - 20



21 - 50



51 - 100



101 - 200



200 - 1000






Processing Sector

Tasmanian has four major packing operators located at Mole Creek, Perth, Mawbanna and Launceston.  Most beekeepers do a limited amount of packaging for local and door sales.


Tasmanian beekeepers are responsible for marketing their own honey. Domestic and interstate sales are relatively free of regulation compared with exports, which are quite heavily controlled.

The leatherwood variety, sourced largely from Tasmania’s unpolluted wilderness areas, accounts for around 65% of Tasmania’s honey. Some 20% of sales are in the local market, 50% interstate and 30% overseas. Significant proportions of the interstate sales of leatherwood honey are eventually exported overseas.

Tasmanian exports of honey are mainly in bulk to the United Kingdom and Germany. About 20% has added value, being honey that is in prepacked form in containers of 4kg or less. Prepacked honey is sent to some 27 countries around the world.


The Australian Honeybee Industry Council (AHBIC) is funded by voluntary levy and is the peak body representing the apiary industry in Australia. AHBIC is made up from members of the four Associations that represent the honey producers, honey packers, pollinators and queen breeders.

The Tasmanian Beekeepers’ Association Inc. was founded in 1946. It has branches in the North-West, North and South of the State.

Research and development in the industry is funded by a honeybee program under the Rural Industry Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC). Priority areas include bee nutrition, bee diseases, pollination and resource management.

Blue Hills Honey collection

Strategic importance

Tasmanian Leatherwood honey is seen as an icon for Tasmania’s clean green image and food products. It is a natural food harvested from wilderness and wet forest areas that can be linked to other Tasmanian products and Tasmania’s branding image.

Honey production provides employment across all areas of the State.

Many of the horticultural and small seeds crops grown in Tasmania depend to varying degrees on the honey bee for pollination. The expansion of the seed industry and stone fruit industries will be dependent on viable pollination services.

Government input and involvement

Government activity relates mainly to the overseeing of disease management and pest freedom, the security of long term access to production forests and World Heritage Area stands of leatherwood, the licensing of apiary sites and compliance.

The Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment (DPIPWE) has a leading role in the control of bee diseases and pests, and duties include extension, advice and surveillance. The DPIPWE is also involved in assisting the industry to implement apiary industry disease control programs.

Future objectives for the industry

Industry objectives for the future include:

  • Maintaining long term viability;
  • Guaranteed access to public lands with floral resource security through the management plans for leatherwood and conserved public lands;
  • To improve profitability;
  • To maintain existing high quality standards and low disease status;
  • To give high priority to research, extension, education and training;
  • Market enhancement through the implementation of disease and residue monitoring programs;
  • Developing strategies that will increase the nectar floral resource in Tasmania;
  • The expansion of commercial pollination services;
  • The enhancement of public awareness of the industry in Tasmania; and
  • To maintain effective representation of the concerns of Tasmanian beekeepers at a National level.