Norfolk Island has an extremely healthy European bee population. The first European bees recorded on Norfolk Island were in the 1840s when the convict settlement was operational.

The Norfolk bees are free from European and American Foulbrood and we have no hive beetles or Varroa mite. The spores for European and American Foulbrood are able to survive in untreated honey and on bee equipment for at least 80 years. No importation of used bee equipment (which includes clothing and shoes) is allowed into Norfolk Island.

Unfortunately since 2016 (when Australia assumed control of Norfolk Island) 750g of untreated honey for personal use is allowed to be imported by anybody with the one proviso that it is “not to be fed to bees.”

To keep this bee population safe we requested that Norfolk Island become part of the Australian Sentinel Hive programme. As part of that programme we have set up sentinel hives at all the first points of entry on Norfolk Island. If there is an incursion of a pest or disease then these hives hopefully will be the first affected and that will give us a fighting chance to treat/eradicate any invader.

We monitor the sentinel hives on the first of each month and use different techniques to check for a variety of pests/diseases and this information is then  immediately passed on to Plant Health Australia who collate all the information from all the sentinel hives scattered around first points of entry on mainland Australia.

We have put in a submission  to the Commonwealth of Australia to have Norfolk Island declared a Bee Sanctuary but the response from the Commonwealth is that such a declaration is a State function and as Norfolk Island is a Territory not a State no sanctuary is possible.


Merv Buffett

Clare McPherson