13 Mar 2012

Live bee shipments to Canada resume, with new protocol

6:30 am on 13 March 2012

New Zealand live bee exporters have started their annual shipments of bees to Canada after getting agreement on a new protocol that at one stage threatened to scuttle the trade.

Canada imports 30 to 40 tonnes of bees a year from New Zealand, to replenish bee populations after the winter and to pollinate horticultural crops.

One of the two bee exporters, James Ward of Kintail Honey, says the export season is shaping up well now, but it was in doubt until the Canadian government agreed to reduce its demands for varroa-resistance tests on New Zealand bees.

"They were wanting to alcohol-wash a sample of 300 bees from every hive which we send bees from, which just wasn't a going thing. If they'd stuck to their guns, we wouldn't have exported anything.

"Now rather than taking a sample out of every hive, we only have to supply 60 samples over the whole outfit which is far easier for us to adhere to."

Mr Ward says another challenge was political pressure on Canada coming from the United States.

"because they are not allowed to export packages into Canada".

He says a few Canadian beekeepers were also wanting packages out of the United States, so they had applied pressure through their honey council to the government there.

Mr Ward says Kintail expects to airfreight about 15 tonnes of live bees to Canada this year. The shipments will reach their peak next month.