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  • Writer's picturePatrick Dawkins

Apiculture Industry Set to Shine Despite Gloom for Some

The highlight of the New Zealand apiculture industry’s calendar is almost upon beekeepers and Apiculture New Zealand (ApiNZ) chief executive Karin Kos says the team behind their National Conference and Trade Exhibition has an event planned that is set to help beekeepers and the honey industry “shine”. Rotorua’s Energy Events Centre will host approximately 1000 people on June 29 and 30, in an event with something for all beekeepers.

“Connections, community and competitions”, that’s the meaning behind, and reason for, the national conference, Kos believes.

Beekeepers and apiculture industry personal listen in at the 2021 Apiculture New Zealand Conference in Rotorua, where a slightly smaller crowd is likely this year as the event returns to the North Island following the 2022 Christchurch gathering. Photo: ApiNZ

Even before the formation of ApiNZ in 2016, a gathering of beekeepers on a national scale during the down-time of winter had long been a trend in New Zealand, with National Beekeepers Association meetings bringing apiarists from around the country to various host centres. Once again, in 2023 as beekeepers suffer at the hands of unsustainable honey prices, the Rotorua event will be the venue for a show of strength by those sticking it out. The hosts are expecting another good turnout.

“Contrary to what some people might be saying, conference is alive and well and we are ahead on delegate numbers from this time last year. We are a bit behind on exhibitors, but are seeing a late surge,” Kos says.

Last June just over 750 people attended the national conference in Christchurch. Previous to that, events with as many as 1200 delegates have taken place, including several in Rotorua. This year the tag line in Rotorua will be, Beyond the frame: where to next for the NZ apiculture sector?

The template for the event is a familiar one, with a similar mix of plenary speaking sessions, ‘toolbox’ discussions, and expert panels, as have become common place at national conferences in recent years. Also on the agenda are ApiNZ’s AGM, a wide range of competitions, social events and trade displays.

“You need to get together with other beekeepers and have the appropriate conversations. Asking each other, what are you guys doing? What are you finding? What is going on up north, or down south. To me, that is the most important outcome of the conference – everyone has an opportunity to get together and have a good chat over a couple of days,” Kos says of an event that, after seven years with ApiNZ, she knows well.

While the conference itself might officially be a two-day affair, it is preceded, on Wednesday June 29, by the 4th New Zealand Honey Bee Research Symposium and also a Professional Learning and Development Day for apprentice beekeepers at the same venue.

As for the main event, two international speakers and beekeeping experts will be guests. Dr Peter Neumann, a professor at Switzerland’s Institute of Bee Health will take to the stage to present on two varied topics.

“Peter is really interesting and quite quirky. I asked him what he wanted to speak about and he said ‘Colony Loss and the international trends, but my pet topic is small hive beetle. Can I talk about that?’ Of course, I said ‘absolutely’, so he will be very interesting,” Kos says.

The Rotorua Energy Events Centre will play host to the ApiNZ Conference and Trade Show for the third time in five years, June 29-30, following successful events in 2019 and 2021. Photo: ApiNZ

Also providing a keynote address will be Dr David Tarpy, professor at the Department of Applied Ecology at North Carolina State University in the USA. His address, ‘What’s going on with queens?’, will be packed with advice on how to improve queen bee quality as well as overall colony health and productivity.

In addition to those international experts, panel discussions with New Zealand’s own experts on key topics will take place, such as managing varroa (including breeding for resistance), honey markets, and even lessons from Cyclone Gabrielle’s impact on beekeepers. Add to that a guest appearance from Danny Le Feuvre, chief executive of the Australia Honey Bee Council, to update on the Australian varroa incursion response, plus political journalist Patrick Smellie on how various potential government collations which could form after this year’s election might impact apiculture, and an educational and insightful event is set to take place once again.

On top of those discussions, ApiNZ’s wide range of competitions will be held – highlighted by the New Zealand Honey Awards. From innovative ideas, to sustainability in beekeeping, plus dedication to the industry, and the best photos to the best honeys, the awards act as a celebration of all things apiculture.

“The competitions are there for our industry, but also for beekeepers, their businesses and their honeys to shine,” Kos says.

Registration pricing for both days of the conference range from $300 to $408 and have not increased on the 2022 event. With organisers well aware of the financial struggles of many parts of the industry, Kos says they have done what they can to provide a high-quality and valuable event at a price which she has not seen matched at similar primary industry events.

“There is so much happening and so much to do,” the chief executive says. “It is going to be another great experience and I am looking forward to seeing people there.”

Further information and registration for ApiNZ Conference and Trade Exhibition, as well as Honey Bee Research Symposium and Professional Learning and Development Day is available here.


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