The National Trust monument close to Penneshaw

 The Ligurian bees on Kangaroo Island are believed to be the last remaining pure stock of this bee found anywhere in the world.

 In the early 1880's Ligurian bees were imported by the South Australian Chamber of Manufacturers. The Ligurian bee was named for its origin in the Ligurian Alps in the days of the Roman Empire. Roman historians praised its docility and productivity. The scientific name of this species is Apis mellifera ligustica.

 Due to the efforts of Mr. A.E. Bonney, secretary of the South Australian Beekeepers' Association, these bees were introduced to the Island and the bee population rapidly expanded in the mild climate and plentiful pollen and nectar sources.

 Kangaroo Island was declared a bee sanctuary in 1885. No other bees have since been imported to the Island.

 The National Trust plaque was erected near Penneshaw to honour the creation of the bee sanctuary. The site of the original apiary is well known to Islanders but is not supported by firm historical evidence as to the date. However August Fiebig undoubtedly played an important role in conserving the genetic heritage of the pure Ligurian bee.

 Chamber of Commerce records show that a Ligurian colony was forwarded to a Mr. Buick of American River transported via Justice James Penn Boucaut from his yacht on Easter Sunday April 13 1884. Boucaut was then a judge of the Supreme Court of South Australia and a former Premier of that colony. A Mr. Turner of Smith’s Bay received a hive in June 1884 in exchange for a hive of black bees, which was removed from the Island.

 The geographic isolation from the mainland has also enabled the Island to remain free of several bee diseases present on mainland Australia. To maintain this protection all honey, pollen, used beekeeping tools and equipment are prohibited from being brought to the Island unless these have been certified disease-free by the Department of Primary Industries.

 The South Australian Government established a queen breeding station at Flinders Chase in 1944 which became known as the Bee Farm, here queen bees and honey were produced for sale.

 The bush fires that ravaged the Chase in 1958 temporarily destroyed the floral sources and the hives were sold shortly thereafter to Island apiarists who continue to produce excellent honeys from the flowering eucalypts and other flora.

 The Ligurian bee produces a superb range of honeys from the various floral sources including sugar gum, pink gum, white mallee and other Australian and introduced flora.

 The geographic isolation has also enabled the bees to remain free of bee diseases present on the mainland, so no antibiotics or other chemicals are used in apiary management.

 The breeding of queen bees for sale both on mainland Australia and internationally is also now expanding options for Island apiarists as the pure Ligurian bee is highly valued for its ease of management and industrious honey, pollen and propolis collection.

 The pristine environment and disease-free status of the Island bees are of increasing importance in developing markets for queen bees and Island honey.


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History of sanctuary

Environmental niche

Queen bees - origin and role

Kangaroo Island queen bees

More about bees

Nectar sources

Honey Types

Honey recipes


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