Bee Keeping

Basic organic bee keeping and honey production rules:

Certification may occur following a 12 month period of Pre-certification under the auditing system of the CO that verifies conformance to the requirements of the Standard:

  • Bee products may be sold as organic when the requirements of these Standards have been complied with for at least one year. During the conversion period the wax shall be replaced by organically produced wax.
  • Where no prohibited products have previously been used in the hive and there is no risk of contamination of wax, replacement of wax is not necessary. In cases where all the wax cannot be replaced during a one-year period, the conversion period may be extended
  • Wing clipping is prohibited as is the destruction of the male brood during harvest
  • Apiary locations shall not be located within a 5 kilometre radius of pollution sources which may cause contamination of honey by returning and/or actively foraging bees. Such sources may include conventional orchards and crops, livestock dip sites, urban centres, sanitary landfills, garbage dumps, contaminated water, golf courses and GMO crops. This distance may be required to be larger where threats such as GMO crops exist which pose potential risk to production and end product in regard to GMO pollen.
  • Where threats to contamination may be present, additional verification and monitoring practices may be required to be in place to ensure conformance with this Standard
  • Honey and Bee pollen from a certified organic is permitted ad feed. Supplementary feeding of bees shall only occur after the last harvest of the season with feed complying with this Standard as above.
  • Hygiene and hive management shall be a critical focus of the operator to ensure the health and welfare of the hive, and disease and pest prevention. Bottom boards may be scraped routinely to remove accumulations of wax and other debris that serve as food and shelter for wax moths. Use of any disinfecting materials shall not pose risk of contamination to honey or comb, and shall utilise the following only: caustic soda; lactic, oxalic or acetic acid; formic acid; sulphur; etheric oils. Any other products shall require prior approval by the CO. Practices may also include use of steam and direct flame.
  • Where preventative methods fail, veterinary medicinal products may be used under strict conditions outlined below. Preference should be given to phyto-therapeutic and homeopathic treatments. Synthetically compounded materials for bee husbandry use (e.g. antibiotics, miticides and synthetic veterinary treatments) are prohibited
  • Particleboard and/or toxic wood preservatives and coatings shall not be used in hive construction or maintenance. Internal areas of beehives (boxes or supers) may be painted with naturally compounded lead free paints or water based non-contaminating acrylic paints. Vegetable oils, paraffin and beeswax mixtures are recommended
  • Comb foundations are to be made of pure beeswax ideally from certified origin or verified non contaminated origin. Frames shall be made from wood, plastic or other non-contaminating products.
  • Each individual hive and/or group shall have a numbered ID code that relates to the bottom board, brood chamber boxes, queen excluder (if needed), honey supers and cover(s). Certified hives shall be clearly labelled with the certification number or similar means of identification of the operator – eg State registration numbers. These shall be permanent markings where non organic honey is also produced in the region. All identification numbers or marks shall be maintained as a register, kept on file by the certified operator and made available upon request by the CO
  • The use of wet comb (extracted, but wet with honey) from uncertified hives is prohibited.  Beeswax shall be obtained only from cappings removed from organic honey comb, and not through the recycling of frames.

Harvest and Extraction

  • Wax processing shall utilise stainless steel wax melters only and wax moulds shall be of food grade plastic or equivalent material
  • Honey shall be stored below 45 degrees Celsius and not be stored under conditions which pose risk of contamination from containers or surrounds. Galvanised drum storage shall be for minimal times only to prevent zinc absorption. All containers must comply with food grade standards
  • Storage containers shall be labelled with the operator’s name, address and signage denoting certified organic status, certification number, date of harvest and floral source where known.
  • In relation to export shipments a sample from each consignment shall be held for potential testing of contaminants (refer Section 4.8).

The ACOS is available for download here.