News and Events

5 minutes with Karin Kos

Chief Executive, Apiculture New Zealand.


What is the history of Apiculture New Zealand?Karin Kos, Chief Executive, Apiculture New Zealand.

Apiculture New Zealand (ApiNZ) was established in 2016 after the restructure of the National Beekeepers Association to better meet the needs of its members and the wider industry.

This restructuring included a rebranding to reflect a broader membership; bringing together New Zealand beekeepers (both commercial and non-commercial), honey packers and exporters, and related supply companies.

ApiNZ’s mission is to create value and opportunity for our members and we do this by supporting policy and programmes to protect the health of New Zealand's bees, by taking a leadership position on issues that affect our industry, and driving best-practice beekeeping through educational tools and resources.

This new structure also better supports an industry that has experienced phenomenal growth over the last few years, with a seven-fold increase in the value of honey exports over the last ten years from $50 million in 2008 to $350 million as at June 2018.


Just how important is a healthy bee population and thriving beekeeping sector?

These two aspects are critical in supporting New Zealand’s biodiversity, pastoral, forest and horticulture industries. The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations estimates that of 100 crops that produce 90 percent of the world's food, 71 of those are bee-pollinated. The honey bee also plays a vital role in pollinating agricultural crops, like clover, which is crucial for nitrogen generation and feeding livestock.

The New Zealand apiculture industry makes a significant and growing contribution to the agriculture and horticulture sectors through pollination services. In New Zealand alone, the combined roles of pollination and the production of honey and honey bee products is estimated to be worth over $5 billion to the nation’s economy.


The New Zealand apiculture industry makes a significant and growing contribution to the agriculture and horticultureThe honey and bee industry is joining other primary sector industries in implementing a commodity levy this year. What is involved in this?

Over 30 New Zealand primary sector organisations have a commodity levy in place and the honey and bee industry is looking to join those ranks this year. Voting opens this month with ballot papers going out to all beekeepers with 26 hives or more, asking for their say on a commodity levy proposal aimed at raising $2 million per year.

The road to gaining a commodity levy involves a number of steps which are set out in the Commodity Levies Act. The first step requires that a commodity levy can only be established with the consent of potential levy payers. ApiNZ has consulted and communicated widely with industry on the proposal via a series of meetings around the country, regular updates through our communications channels, including the monthly New Zealand Beekeeper Journal, as well as a dedicated online presence for the commodity levy. Following the consultation process, Apiculture New Zealand made a number of amendments to its original proposal and this proposal goes to vote on 1st February.

If the vote is successful a levy order is recommended to the Ministry for Primary Industries. The Minister of Agriculture will then consider the levy order. Depending on timing, a levy order would be expected to be in place by 1st October 2019 but payment by levy payers would only come into effect after the 2019/20 honey season.


What will money from the commodity levy be used for?

Given the critical role of honey bees to our primary sector and wider society, a commodity levy is a common-sense approach to how the industry maintains a sustainable and healthy bee population and mitigates biosecurity risks that could dramatically reduce our bee population. It paves the way for a considered approach to how the apiculture industry protects, grows and creates value for beekeepers, which in turn supports New Zealand’s wider primary sector.

Specific areas of investment include:

  • Science and research focused on bee health, for example new treatment methods for varroa and investigation into bio-controls
  • The ability to leverage third-party funding through opportunities with government, for example the Sustainable Farming Fund
  • Biosecurity to control and manage incursions of new pests and diseases
  • Education and skills to ensure both new and experienced beekeepers have the tools to apply bestpractice beekeeping with a focus on sustainability over the long term
  • Ensuring we continue to meet overseas market access requirements
  • How we can grow the value of all our New Zealand native mono floral honeys and bee products.


Are there any exceptions to the commodity levy?

The levy does not apply to those who produce less than 750 kgs a year. That means the commodity levy proposal does not include hobbyists who represent just over three percent of all hives. This is similar to how many other primary sector commodity levies operate.

The levy is designed around honey production at a flat rate of $0.10c per kg, including honey comb honey. Beekeepers are eligible to vote on the commodity levy proposal if they have 26 hives or more.


The levy vote opens on 1st February and closes on 1st March. More information about the levy can be found at Apiculture New Zealand’s website