BEEKEEPING is having a meteoric rise in Western Australia.
The state now has more than 3000 registered beekeepers.
Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) records show the number of registered beekeepers have tripled from 660 in 2010 to 3005 beekeepers caring for more than 45,860 beehives.
DPIRD livestock biosecurity director, Peter Gray, said the majority of the increase was attributable to amateur beekeepers with less than five hives.
Western Australia's bee industry is notable for its freedom from important bee diseases and pests which occur in other parts of the world.
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Beekeepers in Western Australia must register their hives with DPIRD to support broader efforts to protect WA's prized biosecurity status.
"Registration assists the department to locate hives and contact beekeepers in the event of a pest or disease incursion which could seriously threaten the WA bee industry," Dr Gray said.
He said it was also important that beekeepers kept accurate written records of all beehive movements.
"This information is vital so we know where beehives are and who owns them so that if there is a detection of an exotic disease like European foulbrood or exotic pests like varroa mite, the department and industry can respond quickly and effectively to contain and reduce the threat," he said.
All registered amateur and commercial beekeepers are allocated a hive brand and are required to brand their beehives.
Application forms for registration as a beekeeper or notification of change of address are available at the department website.
The Bee Industry Council of Western Australia (BICWA) represents hobbyists and commercial beekeepers.
"It is pleasing to see so many new beekeepers that are aware of the importance of registering their hives as part of the decision to become a beekeeper," BICWA chairwoman, Leilani Leyland said.
"Western Australia is fortunate to have the healthiest bee population in the world and by these beekeepers being proactive in their approach to keeping healthy bees, hopefully it will continue to remain that way and encourage the growth of our industry on a commercial level."