The National Bee Keepers Association has declared
August Bee Aware month. The work of bees as pollinators and
producers of honey contributes about $5 billion to the New
Zealand economy. In this issue, Courier Country reporter Ruth
Grundy discusses challenges facing the sector with the
president of the second of the two industry bodies, National
Beekeepers Association's Ricki Leahy.
Photo by Ruth Grundy
A honey industry levy would be a fairer way to fund research
than the voluntary subscriptions on which the sector relies
at present, National Beekeepers Association president (NBA)
Ricki Leahy says.
Earlier this month, Federated Farmers Bees representative
Peter Bell echoed those sentiments, saying a compulsory levy
paid by all beekeepers would be the most logical way to fund
''industry good'' projects.
Mr Leahy said there was always money needed to fund research
and the supply of funds needed to be reliable, as research
projects often carried over for several years.
The owners of most of New Zealand's hives belonged to either
one or other of the two industry organisations - Federated
Farmers Bees or NBA.
''Most research funding is donated on a voluntary basis from
amongst these beekeepers but there is no certainty and, of
course, the funding is not universal.
At present the industry relied on voluntary subscriptions
paid by a relatively small percentage of beekeepers - some
700-800 of more than 3500 registered beekeepers in New
Zealand, he said.
This only covered the cost of running the organisations and
was insufficient to adequately fund the number and scope of
projects the industry needed to fund, he said.
''To some extent this does hold the industry back,'' Mr Leahy
''It would be fairer overall, and more productive, if all
beekeepers contributed to a levy-based scheme.''
Biosecurity was also a major concern for the industry.
''It's imperative that we get it right''.
However, the newly introduced Government Industry Agreement
(GIA) would impose a range of costs on the industry.
''We need to be absolutely and particularly sure this
biosecurity management system is of the best value for our
A GIA is formed between a representative industry body and
the Ministry for Primary Industry (MPI) for biosecurity
It identifies the biosecurity risks of greatest concern to an
industry and puts in place a plan to manage and respond to
Under a GIA, the industry agrees to, jointly with the
Government, meet the costs to manage the risk.
''That's a process we [NBA] are only just starting to work
through with MPI, along with our sister organisation
Federated Farmers Bees,'' Mr Leahy said.
''The important thing for the beekeeping industry, whether
the issue concerns GIA, a levy, research or anything else, is
that beekeepers work together with a united voice to advocate
for what they feel is best for the long-term development of
What was good for the industry - its biosecurity and the
health and wellbeing of the bee population - was vital for
New Zealand's agricultural export industries because of the
contribution bees made through pollination, Mr Leahy said.