Helping hand extended to Vanuatu Beekeepers


<p style="text-align: left;">Kiwi beekeepers are fundraising to help restock the Vanuatu bee population after Tropical cyclone Pam had “blown the bees out to sea.”<!--more--></p>

[caption id="attachment_7190" align="alignleft" width="138"]<a href=""><img class="size-full wp-image-7190" src="" alt="John Hartnell, Chairman of Bee Industry Group, Federated Farmers." width="138" height="104" /></a> John Hartnell, Chairman of Bee Industry Group, Federated Farmers.[/caption]

The impact from Cyclone Pam was devastating on the island with loss of life, some 160,000 people with severe injuries and more than 65,000 people left homeless.

John Hartnell, Chairman of the Bee Industry Group of Federated Farmers spoke with <strong>Pacific Periscope</strong> prior to the annual New Zealand Apiculture Conference 2015 in Rotorua. Of the 6000 beekeepers in New Zealand, there had been 700 registrations for the 5-day conference (from Sunday 21 June to Wednesday 25 June) that has attracted international speakers from Australia, United States and throughout New Zealand.

Mr Hartnell said due to the cyclone “the bees were blown out to sea” and attendees at the 5-day conference would be asked to assist the efforts to help the Vanuatu beekeeping community. Depending on the fund raising results it could include repopulating the hives, supplying wood work and raising donations at the conference he said.

Re-establishing hives might also mean sending queens or large packets of live bees to help replace the bee stock but it would be confirmed at the end of the conference, Mr Hartnell said. New Zealand has great expertise in sending live bee exports from New Zealand with the Kiwi bees some of the cleanest in the world and with comparatively few bee diseases common than in other countries.

Historically beekeeping companies Kintail Honey and Apiflora NZ Ltd have also exported large quantities of live bees each autumn for over 20 years. They have sent between 18 and 20 tonnes of live bees to Canada annually with about 10,000 bees weighing 1 kilo. However, importing bees and bee products into New Zealand is highly restricted due to the spread of diseases through honey and beekeeping equipment. New Zealand imports honey from specified Pacific Islands of Niue, Pitcairn Island and Samoa.

The NZ Beekeepers fundraising effort adds extra buzz from the international beekeeping community.   Australian inventor and third generation beekeeper Cedar Anderson and his father Stuart, the inventors of Flow Hives – a beehive that takes 90% of the labour out of beekeeping and preserves the honey bees – raised nearly $100,000 for Vanuatu’s rebuilding efforts. They had planned to raise $20,000 by raffling a first release of their “honey on tap” frame to a lucky winner but within days they had raised $97,300 making theirs the biggest single donation through Oxfam Australia according to an organisation spokesperson. The Andersons had wanted to share some of their good fortune with those in need after a crowd funding campaign on raised 110 times more than the $70,000 they initially targeted.

Whilst bee populations in other countries may be sliding - New Zealand’s beekeeping industry is thriving with hive numbers increasing annually by around 15 per cent Mr Hartnell said. New Zealand’s honey production in 2015 is expected to be about 17,000 tonnes. Meanwhile Kiwis are the largest consumers of honey by population in the world on a per capita basis. The consume approximately 2 kilos per person but over the last 20 years this has fallen due to price increases driven by international demand.

Mr Hartnell said it is estimated that Kiwis consume 7,000-8,000 metric tonnes slathering it as a breakfast spread or processed in food and health products.

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