Calls for change as beekeepers fear looming lockout dates
SOUTHERN DOWNS beekeepers are worried scheduled lockouts from national parks could severely threaten their industry if not amended.
Meeting with Member for Southern Downs James Lister on Thursday, local beekeepers voiced their concern over the Nature Conservation Act 1992, which states Queensland beekeepers will be denied access to crown land previously set aside for them in state and national forests by 2024.
There is about 1100 sites currently open in Queensland which are being used by beekeepers with permits to bring their hives in to pollinate land when their own land can't be used.
Mr Lister said, in tandem with the lockout, the government's delay in providing permits was a massive concern for the regional industry.
"The state environment department takes months and months to turn around permits for our hardworking beekeepers and this often leaves them with nowhere to put their hives between pollination seasons," Mr Lister said.
"Combine this with the government's ban on beekeeping in national parks from 2024 and we have a looming crisis on our hands."
Regional beekeepers fear a lockout would leave them with very few ways to continue their businesses.
"We're going to lose a resource that will be very hard to replace," Warwick branch leader of the Queensland Beekeepers Association Ray Clarke said.
"We can't replace that sort of country because they don't make any more of it and we don't have a back up at all."
Warwick beekeeper Trevor Sorensen also said lockouts could have wider repercussions, especially in the agricultural industry where 70 per cent of crop pollination was from honey bees.
"If we lose that land, we have no way to produce honey and with no way to keep our business afloat, we can't pollinate other crops that other bigger industries rely on," Mr Sorensen said.
"Really big industries in Australia will suffer."
While the act was originally put in place to conserve forests from timber logging and protect native bees, Mr Sorensen said he had never witnessed fighting between bee species.
"I've been working in bees since I was a little kid out near Millmerran and we had a high native bee population around our bees and you didn't see any in-fighting at all," Mr Sorensen said.
"European bees are actually the more successful pollinators.
"With native bees, you'd need three times the native hives and native bees are hard to keep alive."
Queensland Minister for Environment Leeanne Enoch said an independent review was being conducted into the matter.
"This review is ensuring that we have all the best information at hand while we work with the industry and researchers to find the best path forward," Ms Enoch said.
"The Palaszczuk Government recognises the value the beekeeping industry provides to Queensland and we are committed to continue working with the sector to ensure we can strike the right balance between protecting the natural environment in national parks and supporting the beekeeping industry."