Nature conservation

Parks, reserves and protected areas

Beekeeping policy

Balancing conservation needs with the needs of the beekeeping industry.

The apiary industry has traditionally had access to native flora, especially coastal heathlands and some eucalypt forests on public and private land, for honey production and maintenance of hives.

However, beekeeping activities may have negative impacts on the natural environment and must be carefully managed in accordance with the objectives for which the lands are reserved. Apiarists use the introduced honeybee (Apis mellifera) in their beehives. When Crown land containing existing beekeeping sites is reserved or added to a park, the beekeeping operations, if compatible with conservation values and other park users, may be permitted to continue.

The principal melliferous (honey producing) plants used by beekeepers have irregular or variable flowering cycles ranging from one to five years, with an average of two to four years for most species. This can be due to drought, age (older trees tend to flower more regularly), lack of regular flooding (e.g. for river red gums on the Murray River), and impacts of fires. NPWS recognises the importance for beekeepers to have a range of sites to allow for this variability.


This Policy aims to:

  • Provide clear guidelines for beekeeping in parks.
  • Balance NPWS's environmental responsibilities under the National Parks & Wildlife Act and the apiary industry's need for access to parks.
  • Guide where beekeeping may be suitable in parks and a mechanism for the relocation of existing sites where apiary activities may result in adverse impacts on the natural and cultural values of a park.


1. Beekeeping is generally allowed in parks when it is recognised as an existing use. This means that beekeeping is generally permitted to occur where it occurred before the land was reserved under the NPW Act. This has generally been the case where a State forest or Crown land has been reserved under the NPW Act.

2. NPWS may permit the introduction of new beekeeping activities in a park only where it will clearly and demonstrably benefit the conservation of nature in the park.

3. In general, the use of a park for beekeeping must be consistent with the NPW Act. In particular, it must be consistent with the provisions in the Act for:

  • recognising existing interests,
  • managing parks under plans of management,
  • conserving natural and cultural heritage,
  • the public's use and enjoyment of parks, and
  • ensuring public safety in parks.

Does a person keeping beehives in a park need to be registered?

4. Yes. A person who keeps bees or carries on the business of a beekeeper in a park must be registered as a beekeeper under section 6 of the Apiaries Act 1985. They also need permission from NPWS.

How are beekeeping interests in national parks administered?

5. The Park Businesses Team in NPWS is responsible for renewing or transferring beekeeping interests.

Will beekeepers be notified when land is added to a park?

6. Yes. The Reserve Establishment Team in NPWS will notify the NSW Apiarists' Association when NPWS acquires lands for reservation under the NPW Act.

Can a beekeeping interest previously granted by another public land management agency be renewed after the land is reserved?

7. Yes. The beekeeping interest (i.e. a permit or licence in a State forest or on other Crown land) must be current, and the holder of the interest must be a registered beekeeper under the Apiaries Act 1985.

8. The renewal of an existing beekeeping interest may include the condition that it be relocated. NPWS will discuss the proposed relocation with the apiarist before the interest is renewed.

9. The renewal of a beekeeping interest can only apply to the same (or lower) number of sites (or bee ranges as applicable) identified in the existing beekeeping interest.

10. When a beekeeping interest is renewed, it will apply only to identified sites in a park, not to bee ranges. A bee range, whose average size is about 1.5 km2, is a management compartment used by the Forestry Corporation for forest permits.

For how long can a beekeeping interest be renewed?

11. A permit or licence for beekeeping can be renewed for up to five years.

12. NPWS will charge an annual fee for each site in a beekeeping interest when it is renewed. Fees will be published on the Licences and permits pages. Fees must be paid when a beekeeping interest is renewed.

Can a beekeeping interest in a park be relocated?

13. NPWS will consider the need to relocate an existing beekeeping interest where:

  • beekeeping is likely to affect safety of the public, e.g. in a high visitation area in a park, or is likely to impact on a leaseholder
  • an access route needs to be closed or altered
  • in consultation with the beekeeper, there is another park management or conservation purpose, e.g. where natural flooding occurs or environmental water is being delivered.

14. To protect wilderness values, apiary sites within lands declared or proposed to be declared as wilderness under the Wilderness Act 1987 will be relocated outside the proposed wilderness area wherever possible. In such cases, NPWS will consult with the apiarist to identify suitable alternative sites. Where suitable alternative sites are not available, sites situated in the core of a declared wilderness area will be relocated to the edge of the area.

Can an existing beekeeping interest be transferred?

15. An apiarist may apply to NPWS to transfer a beekeeping interest to another registered apiarist. An apiarist may also surrender a beekeeping interest to NPWS.

16. NPWS will liaise with the Apiarists' Association about administering the transfer of vacant sites.

17. NPWS will not refund to a beekeeper the fee (or part of the fee) when a licence is transferred to another person or is surrendered to NPWS.

Can a beekeeping interest be temporarily transferred to another person?

18. No. There is no provision under the NPW Act for a temporary transfer of a permit or licence to another person.

Will fees be waived during fires and droughts?

19. NPWS will consider waiving or reducing fees for beekeeping sites during droughts, bushfires and other natural events where those events clearly have an impact on beekeeping activities.

20. Applications for waiving or reducing fees must be made in writing to the Park Businesses Team in NPWS.

Will apiarists be notified of hazard reduction activities in parks?

21. NPWS will, where possible, notify beekeepers who have beehives in a park of proposed hazard reduction activities that might affect their hives. NPWS also publishes information about proposed hazard reduction activities in parks on the Alerts page of the national parks visitors' website.

Can a beekeeping licence be issued for conservation purposes?

22. NPWS will consider issuing a new licence under the NPW Act for beekeeping only where the primary or essential purpose of the beekeeping activity is the conservation of nature. A licence may be issued for that purpose where:

  • it is consistent with the objects of the NPW Act;
  • scientific evidence shows that the placement of hives in a particular location or landscape has had positive environmental benefits, for example promoting the conservation of a threatened species;
  • the activity is not prohibited in the plan of management for the park; and
  • an appropriate assessment of environmental impacts has been be carried out.

Is there a maximum area for a beekeeping site?

23. Yes. The maximum area for a beekeeping site ('set down area') will generally be the area that the site occupied when the land was transferred to NPWS.

24. Conditions for altering or managing set down areas are specified in the Standard Conditions for Apiary Licences on NPWS Managed Lands.

What conditions will apply to a beekeeping interest?

25. A beekeeping interest will be subject to (but not limited to) the Standard Conditions for Apiary Licences on NPWS Managed Lands, including for:

  • renewals and cancellations
  • transfers and surrenders
  • notifications, insurance and liability
  • site location and use, and
  • site access.

26. Where required, NPWS may vary or add conditions, and if there is a breach of a condition, the beekeeping interest may be cancelled by giving 28 days' notice in writing to the apiarist.

Can a beekeeper request changes to their conditions?

27. Yes. If a beekeeper does not agree with or is concerned about any of the conditions in a beekeeping interest, they may appeal in writing to the Area Manager. NPWS will consult the beekeeper and advise them within 28 days of any changes to conditions as a result of an appeal.

Will vehicle access be available to sites?

28. Yes. A beekeeper who holds a current beekeeping interest will be permitted vehicle access on management trails, subject to NPWS's standard conditions.

Is a beekeeper permitted to maintain their sites?

29. Yes. The routine maintenance activities which apiarists may undertake to maintain sites will be identified in NPWS's standard conditions. Where an apiarist needs to carry out maintenance activities beyond those defined in the standard conditions, they must first contact the Area Manager.

30. Where additional maintenance activities are necessary, NPWS will assess whether the activities require:

  • additional approval; and
  • an environmental impact assessment.

About the policy

Scope and application

This policy applies to all beekeeping activities on lands acquired or reserved under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 (NPW Act). This policy does not apply to lands reserved under Part 4A of the Act unless the Board of Management for those lands has adopted the policy. However, the policy still provides guidance for staff in their dealings with Boards of Management.

Note that the power of the Minister, or their delegate, to renew existing beekeeping interests applies to all parks, including those reserved under Part 4A of the NPW Act.

Relevant legislation

  • Apiaries Act 1985
  • Crown Lands Act 1989
  • Crown Lands (Continued Tenures) Act 1989
  • Forestry Act 2012
  • Local Land Services Act 2013
  • National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974
  • Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995
  • Western Lands Act 1901
  • Wilderness Act 1987

Definitions and abbreviations

bee range

A management compartment used by the NSW Forestry Corporation for forest permits. For example the Forestry Corporation issues one forest permit per bee range. Although the sizes of bee ranges vary, on average they are 1.5 km2.

existing interest

'Existing interest' under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 means a lease, licence, permit, authority, authorisation or occupancy granted under the Forestry Act 2012, the Crown Lands Act 1989, the Crown Lands (Continued Tenures) Act 1989 or the Western Lands Act 1901.


A reserve gazetted under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974, including a national park, nature reserve, historic site, Aboriginal area, State conservation area, karst conservation reserve, or regional park, or any land acquired by the Minister under Part 11 of the Act. It includes a park managed jointly with the Aboriginal community under Part 4A of the Act.

site (or set-down site)

A specific location where the placement of bee hives is allowed, as required by NPWS and identified on the renewal of a beekeeping licence or permit. The size of a site (or set-down site) may vary according to the conditions of the renewal.


ParagraphPosition Accountable
6. Notification of lands acquired by NPWS for reservation Senior Team Leader, Reserve Establishment Team
7-12. & 15-17. Renewing and transferring existing beekeeping interests Senior Team Leader, Park Businesses
19-20. Waiving or reducing fees during fires and droughts Area Manager & Senior Team Leader, Park Businesses
21. Notification of hazard reduction activities in parks, where possible Area Manager
22. Approval to carry out beekeeping for conservation purposes Director, Park Assets Branch
27. Request changes to conditions Area Manager & Senior Team Leader, Park Businesses
Page last updated: 21 July 2016