QUESTION: Honey bee hives in National Parks

In Question Time, Mark asked the Minister for Human Services, representing the Minister for Environment and Water, about managed honey bee hives in national parks.


The Hon. M.C. PARNELL: There is increasing concern amongst scientists and conservationists about the impact on our National Parks and other protected areas of the continued placement of commercial honey bee hives inside National Parks.

It took me by surprise to hear the statistic that for every kilogram of Australian honey produced from eucalypts it takes eight kilograms of nectar to be taken from the environment. That means that an apiary site of 40 hives would take 6.4 tonnes of nectar in only three weeks. That is nectar that is then not available to native Australian birds such as honeyeaters, lorikeets, cockatoos, and pygmy possums and insects. The European honey bee is an invasive pest species. When they swarm they tend to take up residence in nesting hollows that we know are absolutely essential for Australian wildlife, including species such as the endangered glossy black cockatoo on Kangaroo Island.

It appears that, despite the management plan for Flinders Chase National Park speaking strongly against apiary activity in national parks, hives are still being allowed to be placed within the park.

My question is:

Will the Minister ensure that native species are given the best possible chance of survival by ensuring that introduced managed honey bees are excluded from national parks and other protected areas?

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (Minister for Human Services): I thank the honourable member for his question, which I think in the way it has been drafted may be a little bit leading the responder, but I am sure that the Minister in another place will be happy to come back with some relevant information for him. From my own personal understanding of this space, there are a large number of native Australian species. Some of the honey bee stocks globally have been threatened, so for the Australian industry it has become quite critical to be able to export overseas so that they can continue to germinate their crops. I will take that information on board and bring back a response for the honourable member.