Beekeeping policy

Beekeeping is allowed in some national parks but it must be balanced with conservation values and the needs of other park users.

Honey bee (Apis mellifera) on wattle (Acacia)Beekeepers have traditionally had access to native plants on public and private land. However, beekeeping can have negative impacts on the natural environment and must be carefully managed.

When Crown land containing existing beekeeping sites is reserved or added to a park, National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) may permit the beekeeping operations to continue if they are compatible with the park’s conservation values and the needs of other park users.

The main honey-producing plants that beekeepers use flower irregularly, with most species flowering once every 2–4 years. NPWS recognises that beekeepers need access to a range of sites to allow for this variability.

Policy

1. Beekeeping is generally allowed in parks when it is recognised as an existing use (that is, it was being carried out before the land became a park). Beekeeping has usually been allowed to continue when a State forest or Crown land has been reserved as a park under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 (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
  • allowing the public to use and enjoy parks
  • ensuring public safety in parks.

Yes. If you want to keep bees or carry on the business of a beekeeper in a park you must be registered as a beekeeper under section 6 of the Apiaries Act 1985. You also need to hold a current apiary licence issued by NPWS.

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

Yes. The Reserve Establishment Team in NPWS will notify the NSW Apiarists’ Association when NPWS acquires lands for reservation under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974.

7. Yes. Your beekeeping interest (that is, a permit or licence to keep bees in a State forest or on other Crown land) must be current, and you must be a registered beekeeper under the Apiaries Act 1985.

8. When NPWS renews your beekeeping interest, it may require you to move your beehives. NPWS will discuss any proposed relocation with you before the permit or licence is renewed.

9. Beekeeping permits issued by the Forestry Corporation refer to bee ranges. A bee range is a management area of about 1.5 square kilometres. However, NPWS beekeeping licences must identify the specific sites where beehives can be placed. When a beekeeping interest is renewed, it will apply only to such sites, not to bee ranges.

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

11. You can renew your permit or licence for beekeeping for up to 5 years.

12. When a beekeeping interest is renewed, NPWS charges an annual fee for each site in it. You have to pay the fees at the time you renew the beekeeping interest.

13. You can apply to NPWS to permanently transfer a beekeeping interest to another registered beekeeper. You can also surrender a beekeeping interest to NPWS. If you transfer or surrender the beekeeping interest, NPWS will not refund any part of the licence fee.

14. You cannot temporarily transfer a beekeeping interest to another person, as the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 does not allow this.

15. NPWS will contact the Apiarists’ Association about administering the transfer of vacant sites.

16. NPWS may relocate an existing beekeeping interest if:

  • the beekeeping is likely to affect safety of the public (for instance, if it is in an area of the park that many people visit, or it could affect a leaseholder)
  • an access route needs to be closed or altered
  • there is another park-management or conservation purpose to consider (for instance, if the hives are where natural flooding occurs or environmental water is being delivered).

17. 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 beekeeper to identify suitable alternative sites. Where suitable alternative sites are not available, beehives situated in the centre of a declared wilderness area will be relocated to the edge of the area.

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

19. To apply to have fees waived or reduced, contact NPWS:

Phone: 1300 72757

Email: info@environment.nsw.gov.au

If you have beehives in a park, NPWS will try to let you know of proposed hazard-reduction burns that might affect your hives. You can also find this information on the NPWS alerts page.

NPWS will consider issuing a new beekeeping licence 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 section 2A of the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974
  • scientific evidence shows that placing beehives in a particular location or landscape has had positive environmental benefits (for instance, has helped to conserve a threatened species through pollination)
  • the park’s plan of management doesn’t prohibit beekeeping
  • the environmental impacts have been properly assessed. 

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

23. Conditions for altering or managing set-down areas are specified in the Standard Conditions for Apiary Licences on NPWS Managed Lands: contact NPWS for these.

Contact NPWS

Phone: 1300 72757

Email: info@environment.nsw.gov.au

24. A beekeeping interest is 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
  • site access.

NPWS may vary or add conditions where required.

25. If you breach a condition, NPWS can cancel your beekeeping interest by giving you 28 days’ notice in writing.

Yes. If you disagree with some of the licence conditions or have concerns about them, you can appeal in writing to the NPWS Area Manager. NPWS will discuss your concerns with you and let you know within 28 days if any conditions can be changed.

Yes. If you hold a current beekeeping interest you can drive on park management trails that provide access to your sites, subject to NPWS's standard conditions.

28. Yes. NPWS’s standard conditions cover the routine activities you have to carry out to maintain your beekeeping sites. If you want to do anything that falls outside the standard conditions, first contact the NPWS Area Manager.

29. When additional maintenance activities are necessary, NPWS will decide if they require additional approval and an environmental impact assessment.

Policy adopted 24 May 2017

Objectives

This policy aims to:

  • provide clear guidelines for keeping bees in parks
  • balance NPWS’s environmental responsibilities under the NPW Act with the apiary industry’s need for access to parks
  • indicate where beekeeping may be suitable in parks and provide a mechanism for the relocation of existing sites where beekeeping may adversely impact the natural and cultural values of a park.

Scope and application

This policy applies to all beekeeping activities on lands acquired or reserved under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974, except for 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.

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

Definitions and abbreviations

Bee range refers to a management compartment used by the NSW Forestry Corporation for forest permits. A bee range has an average size of about 1.5 square kilometres. The Forestry Corporation issues one forest permit per bee range.

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.

Park means 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) means 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.

Accountabilities

Paragraph

Position

6. Notification of lands acquired by NPWS for reservation

Senior Team Leader, Reserve Establishment Team

7–15. Renewing and transferring existing beekeeping interests

Senior Team Leader, Park Businesses

18–19. Waiving or reducing fees during fires and droughts

Area Manager and Senior Team Leader, Park Businesses

20. Notification of hazard-reduction burns in parks, where possible

Area Manager

21. Approval to carry out beekeeping for conservation purposes

Director, Park Assets

26. Request changes to conditions

Area Manager and Senior Team Leader, Park Businesses