The world’s honey bee population is under threat, meaning global food security is . . . well, anything but secure.
The honey bee is responsible for agricultural production through pollination, meaning the species are literally responsible for one out of every three bites of food we eat.
New Zealand beekeeper Andy Cory oversees 3000 hives in New Zealand and 1000 in the Pacific Islands, and is considered one of the Pacific’s leading apiculturists.
Fortunately, Cory and a group of friends are working together to safeguard New Zealand and the world against Colony Collapse Disorder (as the honey bee’s demise is commonly referred in the Northern Hemisphere) and the answer lies with our Pacific neighbour, Niue.
The group, a partnership between Niue Honey Company Ltd and Mighty River Honey Ltd., are converting current operations into a retail focussed social enterprise operating out of Niue, with the goal of selling honey, and other bee products, under the brand Save The Bee.
A share of the profits from the sale of the Save The Bee products goes toward the development of a global bee sanctuary on Niue, which is home to the healthiest last known and sufficiently isolated stock of Italian honey bees in the region, and likely the world.
“The Italian honey bee (Apis mellifera ligustica), which is a major contributor towards global agriculture and horticulture, was brought to Niue from New Zealand many years ago, well before the major honey bee diseases, parasites and associated chemicals afflicting today’s bees could affect them,” tells Mighty River Honey managing director Richard Duncan.
“They’ve since been relatively isolated in a tropical paradise for bees. Therefore, ongoing protection and preservation of these bees is critical to global agriculture, as well as for New Zealand – it’s like an insurance policy for us,” said Duncan.
“If New Zealand’s bee population were ever to suffer Colony Collapse Disorder scale mortality rates – where would we get more bees from? The answer will be Niue.”
Duncan said creating and funding a bee sanctuary with the aim of eventually being able to potentially export clean, healthy and gentle bee stock to other countries is no simple task.
“And with an alarming 42 per cent mortality rate in the US over the last year, we hope to fast track the creation of the sanctuary through funds created from retail honey sales associated with the Save The Bee social enterprise initiative.”
Visit the crowdfunding site Indiegogo to find out more about the Save The Bee initiative and how you can help save the bee and protect global food security.
Help raise money to ‘Save the Bees’
The total campaign cost for the Save The Bee initiative is $160,000. The Indiegogo site closes on June 28 2015:
• Biosecurity enhancements $15,000 Training and communications: the Government of Niue already does a great job of banning all honey and bee stock imports.
• Retail ‘Save the Bee’ honey bottles $25,000 For the first run of retail sales, we still need to source, test and buy the bottles, then pack and distribute them – all using organic certified processes.
• New hives $25,000 To start the replacement of all the old hives on the island, eventually building to a maximum sustainable number of 4000.
• Honey factory upgrade $30,000 The old honey factory needs new floors and ceilings, plus the upgrade of the 1960s vintage honey and wax processing equipment.
• Truck $25,000 Ever tried to keep a truck going in the Pacific?! We need a new and reliable truck to make sure we can keep pace with the productivity requirements as the venture grows.
• Research and development into Niue honey bioactive properties $20,000 There is anecdotal evidence that Niue honey might have valuable and unique bioactive components.
• Disease audit $20,000 The bees on Niue are inspected by an external agency every few years, but we need to bring the frequency up to an annual inspection in order to retain export clearance to New Zealand and from there to the rest of the world.