@Frederick You have asked for the SNI Beekeeping Inc thoughts on the levy.
So here they are.
Note: This is not an individual's thoughts but the combined thoughts of the Group.
Both groups SNI and NZ Beekeepers are not against a levy for "research" only. There are Commodity Levies in place that do just this without supporting the administration of one body against another.The levy must be fair and equitable to all industry sectors, and all sectors must be involved in paying part of the levy.When ApiNZ was proposed, it was going to take $1.5M to $3.5M to run the association model. (refer to the parliamentary report "Industry unification project final report" Parliament NZ).The report stresses there must be unification. From the outset, the ApiNZ Board has not tried to communicate with the other beekeeping groups and seems to prefer that they will outlast the other groups and become the lead industry body.Unfortunately most commercial beekeepers feel the board have a marketing focus rather than a beekeeping focus. Great when nobody fronted for the beekeeping position on the boards so they appointed a marketing person to represent us. Lack of wide consultation has added extra work to the beekeeping industry.Some of the things that they have approved with MPI like the GREX go against the principal of good beekeeping practice. ie having large colonies. Restricting the brood to a single box is good for some areas that have a slow build-up and a late flow but doesn't work for those that have an early honey crop who must winter hives two high. Strong colonies produce more are healthier and survive the winter better. Some naturally have two queens, mother and daughter in the same hive laying eggs. You don't see this in a single brood nest hive.Yes in some years a single brood nest hive will produce equally as much honey but when there is a dribble of a flow, the bees won't push it up through the queen excluder; unhappily, this is what happened to a lot this season.Single brood nest hives fed sugar syrup is one method of beekeeping which has largely been adopted by some big commercial outfits to take advantage of every drop of honey produced.It also goes against the principal that the bees move honey up, so naturally if fed sugar and stored, the bees will move it up and store it above the brood nest so the beekeeper removing all, will do this also at the risk of producing honey that doesn't meet the Codex. Bees are being treated as a commodity instead of an animal by some who are just in it for the money see a short term gain rather that a prosperous industry all sectors have a part in and can enjoy beekeeping.Then branding of boxes to discourage theft and to make sure the honey processor can identify the boxes the beekeeper brought in for extraction. What has that done for the industry but cause an extra lot of work. Beekeepers stealing hives immediately destroy the boxes to prevent trace-back, and they were doing this before branding was necessary.MPI seem to treat a hive like a cow, but unfortunately with bees and hives, we divide, exchange parts and put them back together again, so the hive at the beginning of the year is still a hive ( if its still alive) but is not recognisable inside.Research can be a gravy train for institutions. We have to be very selective and it must have an outcome that could assist us as a whole. We need very good skilled people to vet proposalsWhat we require is:Has the proposed research been done elsewhere in the world, if so does it fit NZ conditions, if not, do the research but before that the persons, groups must submit their proposal, research protocols on how they intend to conduct the research and their budget and the time frame.The research findings must be available for use of the whole industry. Beekeepers don't need research that is only useful to one particular company and that company doesn't share the results until a few years after.We are just a tiny country with a handful of good researchers who over the years have produced some marvelous results. We also have to promote young people, the brightest into research and have a career for them.ApiNZ do some very good things with their focus groups, but their administration costs are high.They have dressed up the levy to look good in all sector to give beekeepers the feel good factor but when it came to the voting paper things indicated in all the publicity are not there.They are responsible for the AFB side of beekeeping but have not administered this at all, leaving everything to the PMP Board. The AFB PMP play with statistics, saying 100% of an apiary was infected but do not indicate that there was just one hive on that apiary. They have played with statistics saying we are still at 0.3% when actual hive numbers have tripled. If AFB was under control, the level would have gone down to 0.1%. There is massive under reporting so their statistics are meaningless.The same goes for the colony loss survey. Real good results from the small sector beekeepers but little from beekeepers whose loose a lot of hives. This has led some beekeepers into a false sense of security.So, in a body administering beekeepers; we want honesty, openness, a means of influencing the direction of the industry, an advocate for all beekeepers which could be against government policies.This hasn't happened under the present structure of ApiNZ. There are three levies in the picture.The Commodity Levy which in the past has been totally used for fund the peak bodies activities. Research and marketing were dropped for administration.Doubling of the AFB levy which today as a group has failed, taking the MPI compliance approach rather that dealing with AFB. They have lost the confidence of the beekeepers who used to do a lot of the work for nothing and were their eyes and ears to finding the sources of infections.A GIA levy for Biosecurity which could be a very good thing, but will need some skilled negotiating. Honey bees are behind most of our exports in some way, yet we are not recognised as important by the government as there is no direct support in the field. Unfortunately surveillance has never in the world stopped the spread of a bee disease or pathogen. Great for fruit fly or anything that doesn't get moved at 100km per hour on a truck or can fly 10km on their own.APiNZ has been around for three years. Yes it takes time to settle in but commercial beekeepers haven't liked the direction they have taken and they haven't tried to foster unity.The only way to change things is to vote with your feet if you are not happy. This is what is behind the no vote.With a no vote ApiNZ loses their sole mandate to control the industry. They will have to then come to the party and jointly we go forward ignoring personalities.This will only delay a research levy one year.One year will make a difference to struggling beekeepers who are not able to sell their honey or who have no honey and are hurting financially but won't really effect our research goals.
Now is the time to Vote. Vote No.