Apiarism (bee-keeping) in Austria has a long tradition, as shown by some field-names. Maria Theresia was the first to issue a specific law for bee-keepers in 1775: They were exempt from paying duties and taxes to their overlords, and no toll had to be paid for beehives. A school of apiarism was established at the Belvedere in Vienna, and others soon followed. In 1851, the Agricultural Society set up an apiarism section in Vienna, and in 1900, the Association of Apiarists already had 164 branches all over the country. In 1923, the Austrian Apiarism Association was founded. Important names in this context are J. M. v. Ehrenfels, Father C. Schachinger (d. 1923) from Purgstall (Lower Austria), who for many years was chief editor of the "Bienenzeitung", Guido Sklenar from Mistelbach (Lower Austria) and Karl Pechitz from St. Walburgen (Carinthia), both of whose names are world-famous because of their breeding of queens. E. Hruscha invented the honey extractor. A school of apiarism exists at Imst (Tyrol), an Institute of Apiculture at Gainfarn (Lower Austria). The provinces are responsible for bee-keeping regulations. According to section 384 of the ABGB (General Austrian Civil Code of Law), a swarm of bees is considered abandoned if the owner does not take up the chase straightaway or abandons them outright.
Since the early eighties, a new parasite has appeared in Austria, the Varroa mite, which did its greatest damage in 1986. In 1992, the Oesterreichischer Imkerbund (Austrian Association of Bee-keepers) embarked on a specific selection programme for the Carnica bee which was prepared by the University of Agriculture in Vienna. Tolerance and active resistance against the Varroa mite are important assessment criteria in this programme.
In 1993, 29,342 bee-keepers in Austria kept 411,082 bee colonies producing approx. 5,500 t of honey a year. The tendency is slightly downward (1961: roughly 37,000 bee-keepers and 448,700 bee colonies). In 1992, roughly 6,200 t of honey were imported.
Publications#Der Bienenvater, monthly journal of the Austrian Association of Bee-keepers, Vienna; Alpenlaendische Bienen-Zeitung; ed. monthly for Vorarlberg, Tyrol and Salzburg, Innsbruck; Bienenwelt, Graz (monthly).