With consumers becoming more informed and demanding in their food choices, we look at what is involved to gain organic certification for beekeepers.
In Australia organic farming certification is issued by one of several organic certification organisations, such as the National Association for Sustainable Agriculture, Australia (NASAA) or the Australian Certified Organic (ACO).
Organic certification involves one of these organisations auditing a beekeepers methods to ensure that they comply with the guidelines of organic production. If a beekeeper can show they comply, they are entitled to display the organic certification organisations logo as shown below on their product.
There are many many requirements to obtain organic certification, lets take a look at some the main requirements from the ACO for certification in more detail:
Hives must be made from organic materials and only exposed to organic environments and beekeeping techniques in the preparation of the honey.
What constitutes organic materials
This first requirement is relatively straight forward. The requirement is for comb foundations that are to be made of pure beeswax ideally from certified origin or verified non contaminated origin. The frames can be made from wood, plastic or other non-contaminating products. The hives should contain no particleboard and/or toxic wood preservatives and coatings. All containers must also comply with food grade standards.
What is an Organic Environment
The guidelines for ACO organic honey production take into account the vast area a honey bee can covers in search of food. Apiary locations can not be located within a 5 kilometer radius of pollution sources, which may cause contamination of honey by returning and/or actively foraging bees.
This is a very high standard that most urban beekeepers simply can not meet. There are very few locations near cities or towns that are far enough away from of industry, farms, golf courses, garbage dumps or even flowering weeds that local councils treat with roundup.
A 5km radius covers approximately 80 square km. The below maps show just how large a 5km radius is from both Melbourne and Sydney centers.
Organic Beekeeping Techniques
Organic beekeeping techniques cover the ban of antibiotics, miticides or other synthetic veterinary treatments. It also covers the extraction process where honey has to be kept under 45 degrees celsius.
Why seek certification
Put simply price. The price beekeepers can receive for certified organic honey is much higher than the standard honey price, so some beekeepers believe informed consumers are happy to pay a higher price for the guarantee that the honey is organic.
The Bee Store has all the beekeeping equipment you need to help you get started with beekeeping.