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JasonK

Drop in bee prices

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There seems to be a huge reduction in the demand / price of hives and nucs this year. Upto 50% from last year, based on what I’m seeing on trademe. Most being re-listed too. So much for making money selling bees?

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Stage of season makes a difference - everyone has “extra” bees at this time of year, so price and demand/relisting reflect that

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True, it's seasonal.

 

However what I can say is that for years I never had to advertise bees for sale, there were so many people phoning to see if I had any, I had to turn the majority of them away.

 

A few months ago I made 60 nucs to sell, and had to advertise. There was no commercial interest at all, they went to hobbyists, still got I think 3 left which had to be put into hives.

 

Gossip is there are increasing numbers of "beginner commercials" reducing hive numbers or trying to get out completely. At $4 a kilo for non manuka I can only see this process continuing and speeding up. Likewise there is not the financial incentive to buy hives for big bucks.

 

Talking about this a couple months back with a commercial who does almost entirely manuka, he said they are still splitting hives aggressively, he did express concern because his surrounding beekeepers are doing the same and he is wondering where all the hives will go.

 

A big producer of nucs and hives that I know is still selling a lot of hives, but at a cheaper price now. His prices for cells and queens has also dropped.

 

If niche marketing, such as a small beekeeper selling a handful of nucs to some hobbyists, that market will likely continue. But do your sums or at least know who your buyers are, before investing into a large number. Me, getting older and planning on selling 200 singles next spring to reduce hive numbers. I do not feel at all confident of getting a decent price for them.

 

 

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Talking to a Manuka Beek recently I asked where all the good Manuka is going

He told me he thought it was going to Chinese who purchased it as a status symbol in front of their friends and associates.
If this is the case then the Manuka industry is about to collapse IMO.
If you think trumps trade war is about a few billion in trade deficits think again
Its about rebuilding America and that is going to cost China and the world a bundle

 

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I will be very interested to see how the export figures stack up.

tonnage and type of honey exported will make for interesting reading.

MPI’s projection of a billion dollar + industry is dead and buried imho.

 

manuka honey has always been about the number on the label to go with it. 

You might have mono Manuka but if it doesn’t have at least a 5 in it you won’t get the prices of years gone by.

 

i wonder how beekeepers are paying the landowner fees when their honey is worth next to nothing.

Edited by frazzledfozzle
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2 hours ago, frazzledfozzle said:

i wonder how beekeepers are paying the landowner fees when their honey is worth next to nothing.

 

Can't get blood from a stone, in some cases even what has been promised simply won't happen.

 

Only a couple of days ago I was at a site with almost no manuka. I had always given the owner a few jars of honey and they were fine with that. The place has changed hands and I was approached by the new owner, hadn't met him before but had dropped some honey on his doorstep recently. He asked what I was going to do "financially". The ensuing conversation revealed that he derided my gift of honey, as peanuts. And felt he was actually due multiple thousands of dollars annually. I wised him up to the true financial status of that site, which is not a heckuva productive and is more of a temporary dump site.

 

His eyes kind of narrowed, and it was clear he not only did not believe me, but suspected he was dealing with a wiley old beekeeper making tons of money but not wanting to share it.

 

It got to where I had no option but to lay out the take or leave deal, which is a 1/2 kilo jar of honey per hive based on average hive numbers through the year, and no cash. He is currently mulling it over but I have told him that is what I can afford. If he does insist on more, I will be forced to walk, and I don't fancy his chances of anyone offering him a better deal. I suspect this same scenario will be playing out all over NZ.

Edited by Alastair
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@Alastair that scenario has been happening for ages anyway.  Most of my landowners are fantastic, we have a great relationship and it all runs smoothly.  But I’ve met Landowners over the last couple years that seem to have heard rumours of “big money” (whatever that is) for “Manuka” sites (however that is defined) and therefore want the beekeeper to write a cheque.  And like you say, some of these are really pretty average sites.  I suspect we’ll continue to see this for sometime, I was with a group of farmers yesterday who had absolutely no idea the bulk honey price had tanked as far as it has.

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@AlastairI will say that the new owner maybe was informed by others before buying the property that beekeepers pay if there are a couple of manuka bushes.

I would like to see such cases in the Country Calendar when the landowner has to face the reality of the beekeeping. Especially since you commercials need more and more papers/fees to meet the MPI requirements.

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It was clear that the beehive's price will drop and the nucs and queens too.

 

Is the package bee export still alive?

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5 minutes ago, Kiwi Bee said:

 

Is the package bee export still alive?

 

Seems to be. SJA in Helensville are building flash new place in waitoki, I believe a good part of their business is export.

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13 minutes ago, Kiwi Bee said:

@AlastairI will say that the new owner maybe was informed by others before buying the property that beekeepers pay if there are a couple of manuka bushes.

 

My thoughts exactly Kiwi, he is not the first landowner I have met that think that beekeepers are a fountain of money.

 

10 minutes ago, Kiwi Bee said:

Is the package bee export still alive?

 

Yes, not for small players though. Arataki told me they had to spend close to $80,000 getting all the compliance and general red tape organised to ship bees. I had contacted them cos I thought they might take a few packages from me, but, no way, they said the paperwork to do that would make it not viable. Or that's the reason they gave, anyway.

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9 minutes ago, DeeGeeBee said:

 

Seems to be. SJA in Helensville are building flash new place in waitoki, I believe a good part of their business is export.

 

No they have a contract with one of the big boys who extract and buy their honey.  Nuc sales are a big part of the business. 

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A contract to supply packages?

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I believe they are part of the 

image.png

for honey and the packages is a new business area.

Edited by CraBee

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Oh OK. Didn't think Waitoki produced a whole lot of honey that Comvita would be interested in ?

 

Not sure how far SJA have spread their wings though.

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And they have started doing package bees this year too. Wonder how that’s going?

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2 minutes ago, Alastair said:

Oh OK. Didn't think Waitoki produced a whole lot of honey that Comvita would be interested in ?

 

Not sure how far SJA have spread their wings though.

 

My experience with Waitoki is that it doesn't produce a whole lot of honey ?

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As an aside, I first did packages myself back in the late 1970's. Back then, best I recall, the only paperwork other than the freighting stuff, was a document (supplied free by the then department of agriculture) that stated to the best of my knowledge the bees were taken from sites that had no AFB within some distance, which might have been 2 miles. That was it.

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4 minutes ago, CraBee said:

 

My experience with Waitoki is that it doesn't produce a whole lot of honey ?

 

Not nowadays. I'll be pulling out of there once I got this seasons honey off. But some years back it had good and bad years, I do recall taking 3 boxes off hives right in Waitoki. But another year you'd get enough to winter them.

 

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1 minute ago, Alastair said:

As an aside, I first did packages myself back in the late 1970's. Back then, best I recall, the only paperwork other than the freighting stuff, was a document (supplied free by the then department of agriculture) that stated to the best of my knowledge the bees were taken from sites that had no AFB within some distance, which might have been 2 miles. That was it.

Aaah ... the seventies .... I vaguely remember the seventies ...... had to walk six miles barefoot to catch the school bus ..... and you think that was tough ?

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As i recall James, even your buddies at Airborne jumped into the package making business back then, after I left though.

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22 minutes ago, CraBee said:

No they have a contract with one of the big boys who extract and buy their honey.

not any more afaik

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28 minutes ago, Alastair said:

Yes, not for small players though. Arataki told me they had to spend close to $80,000 getting all the compliance and general red tape organised to ship bees. I had contacted them cos I thought they might take a few packages from me, but, no way, they said the paperwork to do that would make it not viable. Or that's the reason they gave, anyway.

 

So a bkper who can produce few hundreds of packages per year can not get into the game alone. Sad. :( What should I plan ahead for then?

 

Just as I said few months ago when we talked about the possible "new fees" per apiary there is only one solution to survive -> WAR for manuka sites.

Other types of honey then manuka pay too low prices adding that there are new requirements in the industry that costs the bkper more then before getting under the MPI's umbrella.

Pollination and queen raring always was dependent on connections with long therm customers and the market is not big enough to get everybody on board.

 

It is obvious that manuka has to be chased to afford all those fees especially for those who invested a lot to start up.

Edited by Kiwi Bee
correction
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Yes, it's a real shame the package export market for smaller players is gone.

 

I love making packages, and going online and seeing the eye watering prices being paid for them overseas, one could make an extremely good living if you could only get them over there.

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Oh, for anyone curious, here is a video of packages being made in Australia, the method is virtually identical to how it was done here back when I was doing it. The bit not shown is how they get the bees into the supers. What happens is the boxes with dry combs are put on over an excluder, then someone walks around with a smoker and a rubber hammer, drumming and smoking each hive, which is done two or three times to each hive to get plenty of bees into the super.

 

 

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