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

See Hog Bay Apiary - The Ligurian Bee Sanctuary

Ligurian Queen Bees.— The Orient steamer Cuzco brought a consignment of Ligurian queen bees to the Chamber of Manufactures. Some months ago an order for a dozen queens was forwarded through Mr. A. E. Bonney to M. Bianconcini, of Bologna, ; and the bees arrived by the Cuzco. On Thursday afternoon several members of the committee of the Chamber attended at the residence of Mr. Bonney, Knightsbridge, to see them unpacked, and were pleased to find that ten out of the twelve were alive, and with one exception they were in excellent condition. The weak one will, however, with a little nursing, no doubt rapidly gain strength. They were shipped at Naples on September 11, had a very favourable voyage, and reached Adelaide on October 15. Arrangements are being made for the distribution of the queens to various parts of the colony, and several will be reserved for residents on Kangaroo Island, which, by a recent Act of the Legislature, has been proclaimed a district specially set apart for Ligurian bees.

CUSTOMS EXPERTS. (1885, October 16). South Australian Register, p. 5.

In 1944, the government established a queen breeding station at Flinders Chase on the western part of the island, and in 1958, destroyed many of the premium floral sources of honey in the west. Apiarists stepped in to build up their privately owned colonies across the island.

National Trust Monument near Penneshaw.

The National Trust plaque was erected near Penneshaw to honour the creation of the bee sanctuary. Kangaroo Island was declared a bee sanctuary in 1885. No other bees have since been imported to the Island.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. In the early 1880s Fiebig established an apiary and introduced the Ligurian strain of bees from Italy. The Ligurian bees on Kangaroo Island are believed to be the last remaining pure stock of this bee found anywhere in the world.

The oft repeated legend of the birth of the Ligurian bee sanctuary appears on a multitude of web pages dealing with Kangaroo Island and its famous honey bees. The reality is more complex than the simple but incorrect version that twelve Ligurian queen bees were brought to the island from Italy by August Fiebig in 1881.

- source no longer available online, but refer Jolly, Bridget. South Australia's early Ligurian beekeeping - and a lingering Kangaroo Island fable [online]. Journal of the Historical Society of South Australia, No. 32, 2004: 69-81. Availability: <;dn=200500688;res=IELAPA>ISSN: 0312-9640. [cited 18 Feb 18].
An interesting account of Fiebig and Son can be found at
See The Ligurian Bees of Kangaroo Island
See THE HONEY BEE. (1887, May 21). The Queenslander (Brisbane, Qld. : 1866 - 1939), p. 832. R

Island Progress by L.D.E.

The December issue of the Journal of Agriculture gives a comprehensive survey of the progress made by the L.D.E in land settlement. In this article due praise is given to the pioneers at Parndana for their whole-hearted efforts in clearing new country. Several illustrations of the work in hand makes it interesting reading to any Islander. In the same issue their appears an illustrated review of the progress made is the breeding of Legurian Queen Bees on Kangaroo Island by J. Masterman, Government Apiarist. Both articles have attracted much attention elsewhere and should be followed here with interest.

Island Progress by LDE (1951, January 26). The Kangaroo Island Courier (Kingscote, SA : 1907 - 1951), p. 1.
Photo courtesy Mitchell Library, State Library New South Wales. Bees. Kangaroo Island / photographed by Lynch. March 1950.
Thirteen more images at

John Masterman, post-WW2 Officer in charge of the government Ligurian Bee Farm at Flinders Chase. Held the post until mid-50's when Jack Rufford Sharpe took over. Then became a State Inspector of Bees with Dept of Agriculture in Adelaide until his retirement in the 60's. Lived at Undalya just south of Clare.

- Napier Roffey-Mitchell.

Mail (Adelaide, SA : 1912 - 1954), Saturday 14 December 1946, page 3

His Excellency Got Stung

1946 The Italians got some of their own back this week on the Governor (Sir Willoughby Norrie) who played a distinguished part against them in the North African campaign.

During his visit to Kangaroo Island, he inspected the Government Apiary, where the superintendent (Mr. Masterman) was demonstrating the extreme docility of the Ligurian bees by allowing 50 of them to crawl over his face and neck. One settled on His Excellency's right ear and immediately stung him. The Ligurians, it transpires, are a special strain imported from Italy. Capt. Kirkpatrick. the Governor's A.D.C., who retired with a sting in his left wrist, was the second casualty in the Viceregal party.

See ANZ provides grant funding for bee foundation

An already fragile and endangered bee colony on Kangaroo Island that was further destabilised by the recent bushfires has received a much-needed lifeline ...

The Islander 4 March 2020