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Beekeepers stung over honey imports

9 February 2006

National Beekeepers Association of NZ

Beekeepers stung over honey imports

President Jane Lorimer of the National Beekeepers Association says that the imminent importation of honey and other bee products threatens the viability of beekeeping and the future of pollination of New Zealand's export crops and pastures.

National Beekeepers Association representatives met this week with officials from Biosecurity New Zealand to express their concerns about the conclusions of a risk analysis that will see imports permitted under new standards, to be finalised this month.

North Island beekeepers are still reeling from the arrival of Varroa almost six years ago. In that time, the country has lost 1,990 beekeepers, 3,171 apiaries and 27,314 hives from the industry. It is predicted that further decline will result from the importation of honey.

The NBA is concerned not only for the viability of beekeeping, but also for the flow on effects following the decrease of hive numbers and the exit of beekeepers from the industry as the economics of beekeeping decline with loss of domestic market share.

The flow on effects are primarily related to the decreased pollination services to the horticulture and agriculture sectors. Demand continues to grow, but those sectors have a limited ability to pay for the pollination fees that beekeepers will be forced to charge in order for their businesses to remain economically viable.

Jane Lorimer says that the World price for honey is about half that currently received by New Zealand beekeepers. While the shopper may benefit from cheaper honey, the country as a whole will not because of the secondary effects on the horticulture and agriculture pollination.

The National Beekeepers Association will now lobby the Government for support to protect the viability of beekeeping and the costs being forced onto the horticulture and agriculture sectors.

ENDS

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