New bee body bodes well for future

The beekeeping industry is on the increase, with an estimated 1200 new entrants this coming season.

The beekeeping industry is on the increase, with an estimated 1200 new entrants this coming season.

The bee industry should go from strength to strength with the creation of new industry body Apiculture New Zealand, Federated Farmers predicts.

Feds bees industry group chairman John Hartnell said the potential membership of the organisation could be 6500 members.

The body it succeeds, the National Beekeepers Association, had less than 1000 people involved in it.

Hartnell said the industry was growing fast on the back of surging manuka honey exports, and it was likely there would be 1200 new entrants this coming year.

Apiculture New Zealand comes into being on April 1 after years of debate about the industry's direction.

Members of the NBA voted 58.63 per cent in favour of creating a single industry body.

John Hartnell said the positive vote was a huge sense of relief.

NBA president Ricki Leahy said beekeeping had the potential to become a billion dollar a year-plus industry, but it needed good systems and structures to achieve this growth.

The move would give the apiculture industry a stronger voice with government, and would support  industry research.

Apiculture NZ will also lead the industry's negotiations with government on the Government-Industry biosecurity agreements.

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Hartnell said one key issue being worked on was a definition of manuka honey.

The Ministry for Primary Industries would issue a set of rules by the end of the year, he said.

"It's a very difficult thing to do, you can't just draft a set of rules and say that's it. There has to be a lot of verifiable criteria and they've been on it for 18 months. It's not a fast fix, but once the rules are in place it will be a much stronger industry than it is now," Hartnell said.

 - Stuff

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