24 Jun 2021

Focus turns to non-mānuka honeys at beekeepers conference

6:42 pm on 24 June 2021

Beekeepers from around the country have gathered in Rotorua to discuss challenges facing the industry.

A beekeeper works and opens his hives to check the honey production. Photograph by Arnaud Chochon / Hans Lucas.

Low prices and an oversupply of honey are on the agenda for beekeepers at their annual conference. (file pic) Photo: AFP

The annual Apiculture Conference is being held over the next three days and is expected to attract about 900 people from the sector.

Apiculture New Zealand chief executive Karin Kos said one topic of discussion would be finding ways to add value for non-mānuka varieties - to solve the issue of low prices and an oversupply.

"The mānuka story has been very, very successful and has been a great platform to leverage New Zealand honey on the global market and what we're saying is, it's time for the other honeys to shine as well.

"We've got a really good session on the next New Zealand mono-floral honey and how science can help deliver better value to them."

She said the industry needed to move from a focus on volume to a focus on value.

"Investigating attributes of other honeys and marketing them to international markets will help us do that."

In 2019 commercial beekeepers voted not to support the introduction of a honey levy to help manage industry growth.

Kos said despite being successful the industry needed more investment. The levy will likely be discussed at the conference but there are no plans for another vote at this stage, she said.

10 June 2021, Saxony-Anhalt, Neinstedt: A honey bee sits on a phacelia plant in a poppy field. Phacelia is also known colloquially as bee pasture or bee lover, as the plant is considered a very high-yielding bee crop.

The industry is also keen to attract more investment. Photo: AFP

"I think it's going to be a while off but what Apiculture New Zealand is doing is actually looking at what else we can do to improve things.

"We're not sitting still, we need to invest in our industry now but the long-term aim is to have a sector that has some form of long-term funding like a commodity levy."

Kos said the ongoing expensive legal fight to trademark the term mānuka for New Zealand was a great example of why investment was needed.

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