26 Jun 2014

One beekeeping organisation mooted

7:48 am on 26 June 2014

One organisation to represent the beekeeping industry is essential as it faces challenges such as biosecurity management, the National Beekeepers Association says.

The association and the Federated Farmers Bee Industry Group have met for their first joint conference this week since the two split in 2002. The two groups now look set to merge to act as one voice for the industry.

Association president Ricki Leahy said it was essential the industry took its fair share of responsibility for combating biosecurity risks.

"Connected to that we've got the threat of honey imports. There's a huge concern for the industry and that's biosecurity concerns," Mr Leahy said.

"We've got huge issues with manuka honey, standards set around that, and we've got huge changes happening all the time. Things like partnerships with landowners. It all needs to be worked on and developed in a good progressive way."

There are about 500,000 hives in the country and more than 4000 registered beekeepers, of which about 800 are commercial operators.

There has been a positive reaction from the industry for the two organisations to re-unite.

"We are going to have to go one step at a time, I would hope we could get a pan-industry working group established in the first instance, and there is a willingness to perhaps be united for the start of next year. A quick timeframe is necessary to keep the ball rolling."

The focus must be on the future, he said.

"All decisions in the past were made by well intentioned people and at the time for the best reasons. We have to recognise that we live in a totally different environment and our industry has to keep pace with those changes."

Mr Leahy said there was overwhelming support for a merger among delegates at the Apiculture Industry Conference.