Need to Address Unethical Practices is Growing
According to the chairman of a number of land trusts, Victor Goldsmith, beekeepers installing hives on land close to Manuka bushes is essentially theft. Goldsmith is call for central government and local government to better regular the industry. “We cannot allow this practice to continue. With no regulation it will get worse,” Goldsmith said in a recent article on GisborneHerald.co.nz. As the Manuka honey industry continues to grow, hives are popping up all over New Zealand.
Recently, a row of beehives was installed on a quarter-acre property near a stand of Manuka. Goldsmith believes that the hives are owned by a beekeeper from out-of-town and the potential value of the honey that is produced will not remain in the local area. “This sort of behavior is basically theft. We are already dealing with counterfeit […] honey overseas and on the East Coast we are dealing with this sort of practice, where landowners are deliberately targeted by unethical businesses to steal honey.”
Goldsmith has gotten involved with the Ministry of Primary Industries, which has issued some interim guidelines to help better label authentic Manuka honey. Manuka honey is an iconic brand for the country of New Zealand and needs to be protected according to Goldsmith. “Landowners need to make a stand to protect our resource. It is our taonga.” With the value and popularity of Manuka honey growing, it is not surprising the reported thefts and counterfeit operations are growing.
One of the more serious threats of un-regulated Manuka honey is that it has the potential to spread disease and pests, which could be a contributing factor to the global phenomenon of Colony Collapse Disorder, also called CCD. CCD has not been a problem in New Zealand thus far. Goldsmith is hoping for a local and central government response to help deal with these counterfeit issues since unethical practices will undermine what is happening in the marketplace.
“As production moves through the value chain it leads to the creation of jobs and opportunities for our people utilizing their land resource,” Goldsmith said. If there are too many hives installed on the East Coast it could mean that bees will have to travel farther to forage. This increases the risk that Manuka honey will be blended with other local flora which will have a direct impact on the quality and yield of the honey. “As landowners, we need to manage the beekeeping pressure to ensure everyone benefits.”