Industry Unification: The story so far

For many years there has been discussion and suggestions around the need to re-unify the two main beekeeping representative bodies – the National Beekeepers Association (NBA) and Federated Farmers Bee Industry Group (BIG).

While the two organisations work closely and co-operate on all major industry issues, it has often been suggested that the beekeeping industry would be better served if there was just one representative body speaking on behalf of all industry participants.

The focus over the last year or two has been the bringing together of the whole industry, the beekeepers and associated network. It has been clear for some time that the greater industry is looking for a new start with fresh thinking and positive direction.

The thinking is that having just one industry representative body would:

  • Provide more strategic direction to industry, helping to promote the industry and enabling it to grow and expand.
  • Give industry a stronger voice and more credibility and influence with government.
  • Allow industry to more effectively tackle key issues like biosecurity management, research, disease control, food safety standards etc etc.
  • Enable the beekeeping industry to work more effectively with the other industries with which we have to deal on a regular basis.

Also part of the plan is the hope that having one strong industry body would attract a large number of members from among those thousands of beekeepers and industry participants who are not currently members of either BIG or NBA. There are currently 5,400 beekeepers in NZ and myriad other organisations involved in the industry but, between them, the NBA and BIG have just on 800 members.

The third point is that having one industry body representing all sectors would provide more opportunity and flexibility around funding and, with improved funding streams, the industry association can do much more to support and promote the industry and to deal effectively with things like disease control and research.

For more information see the story that appeared about industry unification in the February Beekeeper Journal - Page 1 and Page 2.

A milestone at the 2014 industry conference

These discussions around unification progressed last year with a move to hold a joint NBA/BIG conference for the first time.

The 2014 Apiculture Industry Conference was held in Wanganui. It was judged a great success and was the platform for formal presentations on the idea of unification, why it is important, how it would benefit industry members and what it could look like. Presentations were made by NBA President, Ricki Leahy and BIG Chairman, John Hartnell.

Following the conference discussion on unity, which was conducted by an independent facilitator, conference attendees voted to move to a single new entity by majority vote by show of hands.

The next step was a vote at that conference’s Annual General Meetings. The NBA AGM voted ‘yes’ to the proposal that steps be taken to formally explore the options for unification. BIG at their AGM voted in support of the conference vote to move to a new entity and become founding members.

Because not all conference attendees were present at their AGM, the NBA decided to survey its nearly 700 members to get an insight into how that wider group felt about unification. The survey showed most members were in favour of having one industry representative body speaking on behalf of industry.

The Interim Working Group

The Industry Unification Project began with the goal to achieve a “fully inclusive, fully funded industry group structure that will be a strong platform for future growth and prosperity.”

An Interim Working Group was formed to investigate options around unification and what a ‘unified industry organisation’ might look like, how it would be structured and funded, and what it would do.

The move to put in place the IWG was driven by the call from majority of attendees at the 2014 conference, irrelevant of affiliation to either BIG or NBA.

The IWG was elected to survey all industry members, analyse the response and act accordingly.

To ensure wide-ranging representation from all key sectors of the industry, the IWG members were selected from the NBA, BIG and Honey Packers, and the hobbyist sector. The IWG is chaired by Kim Singleton (NBA).

The IWG meets regularly to oversee this project and to ensure everyone can have their say.

The Next Step

The IWG retained a firm called Catalyst to investigate possible organisational structures and to advise on how the unification process should be managed.

Catalyst was selected from four possible providers and has considerable experience of the beekeeping industry.

Catalyst has since researched various industries comparable to ours and has reviewed their representative organisations to gain a better understanding of what might be an acceptable solution for the apiculture industry in New Zealand.

The Unification Survey

Catalyst undertook a comprehensive survey of industry members (not just NBA or BIG members) to get their feedback on specific questions relating to the unification. Click here to go to the survey results.

Catalyst and the IWG reviewed the responses to the survey, considered the comments made and the direction given, and delievered to the IWG a firm proposal for industry unification.

Agreement to form new NZ Apiculture Industry Body

At the joint 2015 NZ Apiculture Industry Conference, industry voted to progress plans to unify under one representative organisation.

At the NBA AGM, members agreed to support the formation of the Apiculture Industry Governance Body (AIGB) with the proposed interim Industry Governance Board, acting in an advisory capacity, using the NBA platform as a basis to develop the detail including funding models, for consultation and approval of the wider industry. Federated Farmers Bee Industry Group and they Honey Packers and Exporters Association also fully supported this.

The Industry Unification Interim Working Group (IWG) established an interim Apiculture Industry Governance Board (AIGB) which is tasked with the establishment and roll out of the proposed industry body by 1 April 2016. 

Further Information

If you have questions that we haven’t dealt with here, please visit our FAQs page, or

email them to the IWG: