30 August 2012
of the Legislative Council
BOURKE AND THE STATE OF THE HONEY INDUSTRY
FINCH (Rosevears) - I
remember that incident vividly. It is interesting that it has been
recalled now, and the pain would still be there.
you talk to anyone around the world seriously interested in honey and
you mention Tasmania, the word 'leatherwood' will immediately enter
the conversation. Leatherwood honey is unique to Tasmania, and it is
world renowned. It comprises 90 per cent of all Tasmanian honey and
it relies on a forest resource that has often been threatened.
Tasmania's biggest honey producer and the biggest exporter of
leatherwood honey lives in my electorate.
Rattray - Lindsay Bourke.
FINCH - Lindsay Bourke -
at Riverside. He started in 1966 with 200 hives, as if he was not
busy enough. Now the company he co-owns called 'Australian Honey
Products' manages 3 000 hives and produces 250 tonnes of honey a
year. A large proportion of it is organic.
Bourke does not do things by halves. Not content with only producing
great honey he has developed numerous other products based on honey
and they have won some of the six gold medals at the Hobart Fine Food
Awards earlier this month. He won Best Tasmanian Exhibit, Best
Exhibit in Show and Champion Honey for his honey nectar concentrate.
He also won awards for his mead, apricot and honey port, and his
double ginger creamed leatherwood, manuka and cider honeys.
are unlikely to find his mead in your local pub, in case you are
looking, but it is an ancient drink that is still well known in
Europe, especially Holland. Lindsay Bourke makes his mead from
prickly box honey and it won an award for the best mead in the world
at the World Honey Show a few years ago.
President, Lindsay Bourke is deeply involved in the politics of the
honey industry and particularly in biosecurity. He is the Tasmanian
and national chair of the Australian Honey Bee Industry Council. Ten
years ago he supported a group of concerned apiarists who established
B-QUAL, a national independently audited food safety accreditation
system for the honey industry. There are stringent requirements for
annual assessment and certification by B-QUAL.
have to keep records to identify where honey is collected and the
history of the bees that produced it. Ninety per cent of Australia's
honey is now extracted under the strict food hygiene conditions of
manager of biosecurity planning and implementation at Animal Health
Australia, Duncan Rowland, says B-QUAL covers biosecurity best
practice for tracing, training and hygiene and naming, which has
allowed Australian honey products - Tasmanian honey - to go all over
the world. It has established markets for Tasmanian honey in Germany,
China, South Korea and the United Kingdom, and others.
things that threaten Tasmania's honey industry, according to Lindsay
Bourke, are, firstly, genetically modified crops. He says people do
not want it in their honey and being GM-free is a distinct advantage
when marketing overseas.
second potential problem is neonicotinoids, which are used as a seed
dressing to protect seeds and separate them. They affect bees
adversely, seemingly stunting their growth. This is a threat to
agriculture because strong bees are needed to transfer pollen on
farms. Bees are essential to pollinate a whole range of foodstuffs.
As Albert Einstein once said, four or five years after the last bee
dies so will the last of mankind.
third and biggest threat to the Australian honey industry is the
Asian honeybee. It can carry a mite called Varroa
It is a tiny parasite that feeds off honeybee larvae. Asian honeybees
are already established in north Queensland. Australia is the last
country in the world that does not have the Varroa
mite. Lindsay Bourke says that no country that has become infected
has been able to stops its spread.
is pressing for the extension of a number of quarantine and
surveillance programs to try to stop the spread of the Asian honeybee
and keep Varroa
out of Australia. Tasmania's honey industry is right behind him,
because he is most of the honey industry.
populations are declining around the world for various reasons. The
United States honey industry has been decimated. In the United
Kingdom the bee population is estimated to have halved between 1985
and 2005. Economists advise Tasmania to concentrate on what we can do
better than elsewhere. Not only can we produce the purest honey in
the world, but we can also produce leatherwood honey where no-one
must preserve and promote our honey industry and be ever vigilant in
keeping out anything that might threaten it.