A great beekeeping business depends on great colonies, and having great colonies depends on having queens. Therefore, you could view queen breeders as the backbone of our industry.
Based on surveys of queen replacement strategies (Chapman & Frost 2021, Gibbs & Muirhead 1998), Clarke & Le Feuvre estimate that the queen bee industry is worth $6.8 million and packaged bees $3.5 million per year. This estimate comes from the number of registered hives in Australia, how often the average beekeeper replaces their queens, and the proportion of queens that beekepers buy.
However, the true value of queen breeding and production is unknown as it has been estimated indirectly from surveys on a small sample of Australian beekeepers. What is needed to place the queen breeding industry in the same context as honey and wax is information from bee breeders about both the domestic and export market.
Plan Bee (National Honey Bee Genetic Improvement Program) is surveying queen breeders across Australia about their 2021/22 season queen production details. Your responses will help us report on the state of queen breeding and production nationally to gain an accurate view of this critical industry sector. Your responses can be anonymous. The information will be used to repeat the economic analysis of Clark & Le Feuvre with more accurate data which could help to highlight the economic importance of the industry and draw greater focus, and investment, to it.
This table shows the price of queens collected from industry advertisements.
- Clarke & Le Feuvre (2021) Size and scope of the Australian honey bee and pollination industry – a snapshot. AgriFutures Australia
- Plan Bee (National Honey Bee Genetic Improvement Program) is supported by funding from the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry as part of its Rural Research and Development for Profit program. The project is further supported by AgriFutures Australia, the Department of Regional NSW, University of Sydney, University of New England Animal Genetics and Breeding Unit, Better Bees WA Inc, Wheen Bee Foundation, Costa Group, Olam, Beechworth Honey, Monson’s Honey and Pollination, South Pacific Seeds, Australian Queen Bee Breeders Association, Australian Honey Bee Industry Council, and commercial beekeepers.
- This article was peer-reviewed by Emily Noordyke and Michael Holmes.