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DECA to become compulsory in New Zealand?

Discussion in 'Disease & Pests' started by Grant, May 30, 2012.

  1. Grant

    Grant The Beekeeper Staff Member Donor 2014 Donor 2013

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    Moves are underway to tighten compliance within the beekeeping industry in an effort to curb the spread of diseases. Beekeepers currently have to register their hives as required under the National American Foulbrood Pest Management Strategy. They are also encouraged but not required to hold a Disease Elimination Conformity Agreement (DECA).

    This is a document providing beekeepers with a means to commit to a personal plan to eliminate American Foulbrood (AFB) from their beehives, and to make changes to the plan if disease levels do not decrease. The industry is looking at placing greater importance in this document by making them compulsory, AFB Pest Management Strategy manger Rex Baynes told beekeepers at Federated Farmers bee industry conference in Twizel. "What I am trying to do is that people regard their DECA almost as a driver's licence. It's that important," he said.

    If beekeepers had their DECA removed then it would impact on their business.

    "We have to use it as a tool to ensure compliance," Mr Baynes said. Currently, 59 per cent of registered beekeepers hold a DECA. Compliance was becoming a greater issue with the bee industry growing. In the past 11 months there had been an increase of 537 registered beekeepers. Since April 71 new beekeepers have signed up to AsureQuality's national register, the bulk of whom are hobbyists. Hive numbers have increased by 33,000 over that time and apiaries have increased by 1953.

    While reported disease levels were the lowest since 1998, Mr Baynes suspected the actual rate was much higher as beekeepers failed to report disease or register their hives as required to under the Strategy. Beekeepers are required to report instances of disease within seven days of its discovery. This law would be more strictly enforced as the Strategy comes up for review. "We believe there are a large amount of beekeepers out there that do not report in writing to us, as the law states, that they have found AFB."

    The vast bulk of the newly registered beekeepers were newcomers to the industry who were bringing in 50-70 hives. Trying to get those new beekeepers to complete AFB recognition courses was a huge challenge. "We are not making as much progress as we should be," he said.

    Many of the problems centred around hobbyist beekeepers.

    Federated Farmers Bees chairman John Hartnell said hobbyists and hobby clubs needed to become more professional and ensure their members all had DECAs. A DECA should almost become a licence. He envisioned new beekeepers having to work in the industry for two years before they could apply for a DECA.

    "We have got to get to that more formal structure," he said. "Beekeepers need to understand that they have a responsibility when they take on a hive, just like livestock farmers have with sheep, beef or chickens." Plans were also underway to have non-compliant beekeepers registration numbers recorded online. This information would allow honey buyers to check that the beekeepers they bought honey from met compliance requirements, therefore making the product exportable.

    "We need somewhere to go as a buyer of honey to check that the person is compliant," he said.

    Licences plan to keep bees | Stuff.co.nz
  2. Grant

    Grant The Beekeeper Staff Member Donor 2014 Donor 2013

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    Ok, light blue touch paper and stand well back .........
  3. dansar

    dansar Guard Bee Staff Member

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    Holding DECA courses more reguarly in more main centers would help me thinks. Better coms from NBA would help too , I emailed them at christmas time to find out when the next course would be held as it hadnt been updated on their web page, no reply and I have found out about upcoming courses from this website..thanks people:)
    Janice and Grant like this.
  4. Grant

    Grant The Beekeeper Staff Member Donor 2014 Donor 2013

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    I'm not sure if this is down to bad reporting or what, but since when does a one-liner about many of the problems being centred around hobbyist, tie in with newcomers bringing in 50-70 hives?
    As a hobbyist I take offence at that statement anyway.

    It then goes on to say "hobbyists and hobby clubs needed to become more professional and ensure their members all had DECAs. A DECA should almost become a licence. He envisioned new beekeepers having to work in the industry for two years before they could apply for a DECA."
    If I'm WORKING in an INDUSTRY for two years, I'd like to suggest its no longer a hobby!

    I do agree that some measure needs to be taken to improve standards, but I'm not sure its the DECA is the way to go. In my eyes the system is flawed. Sure you get to identify AFB as part of your training, but its the self certification check thats of issue. Best case scenario, your eye site goes and you miss something. Worst case scenario you deliberately sign it off and dont declare it. I know it happens because I'm aware of both instances just in my local area.
  5. Kiwi Bee

    Kiwi Bee Pupa

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    Making DECA compulsory for every beekeeper is a good idea but to make it compulsory to work prior in the beekeeping industry is not.
    Those who already have large beekeeping farms will be not just protected from hobbyists but they will rule.

    How do we want to increase the number of hives in the country if we hold back the new beekeepers to start?

    Let say somebody wants to start beekeeping but doesn't have money to make it full time beekeeping. So?
    He/she will start with only 10 hives.
    To achieve the DECA is not difficult but without it will be impossible to start.
    I think the DECA test should be more difficult so who didn't learn will not pass the test. But in the end of the day we are talking only about bee disease and 99% about AFB , so can't bee that hard.

    However regarding to the DECA test it can be taken to the next level and make it online.
    And this just popped out right now: "Preparing for a DECA" in a new thread. How do you like it?
  6. Rob

    Rob Larva Donor 2014

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    The comments of John Hartnell, Federated Farmers Bees Chairman, smack of protectionism to me. His ill-considered comments are another example of a sound-bite made to satisfy the media and Federated Farmers subscription-paying members. Deriding hobbyists is not the way to go, especially those 'newcomers' who reportedly have 50-70 hives when they begin :rolleyes:, and it's interesting that there were no figures provided to indicate the size of the apriaries in which AFB was most commonly found....that might have given some credence to his claim that hobbyists are the target group for improving AFB management.

    As it was six months ago that the Federated Farmers' website last updated its information and resources on the 'New Zealand Bee Industry', I think that Mr Hartnell's comments should be accorded the weight that they deserve.
    phill-k likes this.
  7. Kiwimana

    Kiwimana House Bee Donor 2014

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    Yes I didn't know anything about this Federated Farmers Bee conference? They do need to get out more and make these events know to all beekeepers. Or is it just for commercials?

    The fact is most beekeepers in NZ are small time beekeepers, I think it would be great if all of them held Deca's. Its not a hard book to read or exam to pass.

    Has anyone here dealt with the Federated Farmers Bee Group? Have they done anything for industry yet?
  8. Otto

    Otto Pupa Donor 2013

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    While I agree that it is a good idea for as many beekeepers as possible to have a DECA I think it wrong to suggest they should be like a license. I think there is still a pretty big difference between holding a DECA (having done the paperwork and sat an exam) and reliably identifying AFB in the field. I would rather have someone who cannot confidently identify AFB in their hive/s require that their hives be inspected by someone who can (and fill in a certificate of inspection) than have them be able to declare their hives AFB-free because they have a piece of paper saying they can. It should never be difficult to find someone experience to check your hive/s as every beekeeper has a vested interest in minimising AFB.

    As for the hobby beekeeper-bashing - this just needs to stop. Hobby beekeepers do not pose a large threat to the possible success of the AFB national pest management strategy. Getting rid of AFB from NZ depends on commercial beekeepers getting rid of it. Commercial beekeepers own the vast majority of hives, do the most chopping and changing of equipment between hives and move their hives around most. These are by far the largest contributing factors to the spread of AFB.
    raro, BSB, Shaun and 2 others like this.
  9. frazzledfozzle

    frazzledfozzle Guard Bee Donor 2014 Donor 2013

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    otto this is so true I know of a number of situations around the country right now and not in the too distant past were there has been massive problems with commercial beekeepers not dealing with their AFB hives in the proper manner just one of these beekeepers would have more foul brood hives in their outfit than hundreds of hobbyists hives put together.
  10. deejaycee

    deejaycee Guard Bee Donor 2013

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    BIG is not just for commercials, Gary - anyone can join. But the membership fee is around $450 regardless of scale. That's because it's not just a bee-related membership - you're joining Federated Farmers itself, so you're paying the same (as far as I understand) as a livestock farmer, etc.

    Yes, they are involved in some good work - Trees for Bees is their initiative, for example. But from those I know who have been members, the greatest benefit is considered to be in the availability of resources on a more business level, rather than bee-specific material, eg, sample employment contracts, legal information, etc.

    The conference is for their membership - all of whom would have been well informed of it. Whether it was open to non-members, I'm not sure.
  11. Alastair

    Alastair Guard Bee Donor 2014 Donor 2013

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    The theory of this idea is good but I doubt it could work.

    The problem is twofold. Afb is easy to recognise and diagnose and I believe virtually anyone can be trained to recognise it. But some people are threatened by exams and won't participate, or for some reason would fail even though they can recognise the disease.
    The second thing is there is something wrong with the DECA training method. I've found many AFB hives owned by DECA holders who are unable to recognise the fact they have AFB.
    So before I get the hate mail :), I'm sure most DECA holders can recognise AFB. But some cannot.
    The course is good, but for some people, it's too much book learning. What really needs to happen is a group of people actually open an AFB hive, see the disease not a photo, and each person gets to poke their stick in and perform the ropiness test. How can we arrange this? Don't know, but from what I see the current system is not working.

    There are figures showing who owns how many AFB hives. And the highest % AFB is in hives owned by people with less than 20 hives. So it can be said that it's "mainly hobbyists". However, there is absolutely no shame in someones bees getting AFB it can happen to anyone. Based on what I've seen as an inspector, the great majority of hobbyists who get AFB are completely innocent victims. In my area, AFB is spread mostly by a very small group of people who have an attitude problem. They'll have some theory about why they are so much better at working with AFB than anyone else. Their hives constantly have AFB and they poison the area. Unfortunately I cannot name names. Currently, we cannot even warn people near by because of privacy issues.

    My idea of a fix.

    1. A course is done where people experience live AFB. There is no exam, but attendance at such a course is compulsary for every beekeeper.

    2. After the compulsary course, people are encouraged to sit their DECA, which can remain in it's current form, and is not compulsary.

    3. Recidivist beekeepers who will not deal with their AFB can be banned for life.

    4. Better information sharing about where high risk areas are for people to have bees and even power to enforce removal of whole apiaries being run by people who are a risk to everybody else.
  12. deejaycee

    deejaycee Guard Bee Donor 2013

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    much as it is here in the Bay.

    *wild applause*
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  13. Trevor Gillbanks

    Trevor Gillbanks Guard Bee Staff Member Donor 2014 Donor 2013

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    Alaster.
    Not sure that I agree with your numbers about who has most AFB.
    If a hobbyist with 5 hives gets 1 effected with AFB it is 20%. However if a commercial with a 1000 hives get 1 effected it is only 0.1 %. Numbers can lie. However I agree with your whole posting (as always)
  14. Alastair

    Alastair Guard Bee Donor 2014 Donor 2013

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    Yes I didn't quite phrase that properly. As a %, people with less than 20 hives have the highest %. The figures also exist who actually has the most AFB hives total, and unfortunately memory fails I cannot remember it, but in all likelihood it would be the commercial beekeepers.

    Please be aware. I have no bone either way. It's one of those things that yet again we are all in together. Hobbyists, commercials, naturalists, all of us. Just, human nature being what it is there is a tendancy to fingerpoint. Sometimes it's valid but it's rarely helpful.

    The group I refer to who are the real culprits for spreading the disease reach across several definition boundaries.
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  15. Kiwimana

    Kiwimana House Bee Donor 2014

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    I guess to make it compulsory a new law would be required to be passed.

    I for one would welcome that, but you are always going to get people that don’t register their hives...Alas

    So you need the law on your side.
  16. Trevor Gillbanks

    Trevor Gillbanks Guard Bee Staff Member Donor 2014 Donor 2013

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    Alaster. I agree 100%. I always get a little touchy whenever an individual group get selected out.
    I had the unfortunate situation this year (being first year beekeeper) I lost 2 of my 5 hives to AFB from my bees robbing out a feral hive in a shed wall. Fortunately I had 3 very seperate apairies so still have 3 hives. Not a very nice feeling when as a new bee to open a hive and find AFB. Yes I do have a DECA.
  17. Alastair

    Alastair Guard Bee Donor 2014 Donor 2013

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    Oh didn't know that Trevor, but it's a horrible, gut wrenching experience, to have to burn some beautiful hives you've put a lot of work into making. I can vouch for that also.

    Good you discovered the source, and hopefully the area will be clear now.
  18. Grant

    Grant The Beekeeper Staff Member Donor 2014 Donor 2013

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    Some very valuable infomration and suggestions in those posts Alastair and I agree with your comment above also. Another one of those paint eveyone with the same brush scenarios when it comes to apportioning "blame"
  19. Trevor Gillbanks

    Trevor Gillbanks Guard Bee Staff Member Donor 2014 Donor 2013

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    The worst part was killing the bees. When you throw in a cup of petrol the screaming is horrible. I will never do that again. If there is a next time I will use carbryl. I planned for this when I first set up my equipment. 3 seperate sites well away from each other, Then I painted each hive and all equipment with a different colour so I can pretty well garantee that only effected hives and equipment were destroyed. Fortunately I make all my own hiveware so those costs were reduced but the lost year of drawn comb cannot be recovered, specially on top of a very poor honey season. Oh well, if you have livestock you will always get dead stock.
  20. Alastair

    Alastair Guard Bee Donor 2014 Donor 2013

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    Just for peoples interest, here is a link to a thread on an American site, about Terrance Ingram, an excellent example of a guy who thinks he knows everything but has actually been spreading AFB for years.
    People exactly like him exist in NZ and they are the main culprits for spreading AFB.

    Click Here - Terrence Ingram - 11 Hives Destroyed by the IDofA
    deejaycee likes this.

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