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Unification the hot topic at Beekeepers' Conference

Unification the hot topic at the Conference of the National Beekeepers Association attended by Waikato Based SummerGlow Apiaries.

Unification has been one of the major topics at last week’s annual Conference of the National Beekeepers Association and Federated Farmers Bee Industry Group held at Wairakei, attend by Waikato based Manuka Honey producers SummerGlow Apiaries.

“This year has been the biggest event yet in terms of attendance as we have had over 830 registrations from all areas of the industry attend this year’s conference which is up from last year when 500 people attended,” says John Hartnell, Bees Chairperson of Federated Farmers Of New Zealand.

At the Apiculture Conference this week in Taupo, those attending will be asked to respond to the proposed model for unification as a way forward for the industry. “The industry has never been more unified then what it has now,” adds Mr Hartnell.

Over the past six months an Interim Working Group (IWG) has been exploring possible structures that would enable the industry to move forward in a unified and progressive manner.

In terms of research, the industry would be better funded to enable it to swiftly undertake key research in critical areas of importance under a unified body.

This year, the Conference has been based around the theme of “Practical Beekeeping”.

The event this week included interest group sessions, hands-on workshops, seminars and special guest speakers. There were also two contests that were running during the Conference: the NBA National Honey Competition and the Ecrotek Apiculture Industry Photography Competition.

James Jeffery, co-owner and director at SummerGlow Apiaries, is heavily involved in the National Beekeepers Association having spent time as the Waikato Branch vice- president and was part of this year’s conference committee.

“This year’s Conference was a good opportunity for the industry to further cement its commitment to work more closely together. It takes time to organize these things and that’s time away from my business but it’s to the benefit of the wider industry and that can’t be bad,” Jeffery said.

“The Conference is open to all and is an opportunity for those people associated with beekeeping to network, learn new skills and above all else have some fun while doing so,” says Jane Lorimer, Conference Conductor.

The Conference features presentations from international speakers Fanny Mondet, Maryanne Frazier, Ben Oldroyd and Madeleine Beekman, as well as a panel discussion on Bee Health and presentations by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) on Tutin Standards and Manuka Honey. “We have excellent feedback from those attending these presentations and workshops,” adds Jane Lorimer.

“The Conference also looks at important issues facing the industry such as protecting bee stocks. The industry has an estimated annual contribution of $5 billion a year to the New Zealand economy,” adds Mr Hartnell.

“A united industry is one that will be heard by government and other interested industries on a wide range of issues; one issue in particular that is dear to my heart is that of a need to see a Government endorsed Manuka Honey classification. SummerGlow Apiaries will always hold ourselves to the most stringent and scientifically robust classification system, the UMF quality mark. With our continued support the UMF Honey Association will keep moving ahead with its Manuka ID project.” Says James.


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