American Foulbrood 2024/25 Levy
Notification of the American Foulbrood Beekeeper Levy for 2024/25
The Management Agency's decision
Pursuant to clause 12 of the Biosecurity (American Foulbrood – Beekeeper Levy) Order 2003, notice is hereby given that for the 2024/25 levy year, the rates of the beekeeper and colony levies (exclusive of GST) and the basis of calculation will be:
- $40 per beekeeper for the base levy, plus
- $1.95 per colony owned by the beekeeper as of 31 March 2024.
Your input on the AFB levy for 2024/25
We would like to thank beekeepers for their feedback on the proposed levy rate and budget for 2024/25.
Of the 9,057 beekeepers invited to submit their views about the levy consultation, 78 responded with submissions via SurveyMonkey, post, or email.
Key messages across the submissions were the economic strain many beekeepers are experiencing and support for the investment into ongoing AFB elimination efforts. We acknowledge the challenging economic climate that beekeepers find themselves in and have carefully considered this while deciding the levy rate and budget for 2024/25. The Management Agency Board has also ensured that the levy rate per bee colony is kept below $2.55 (ex GST); the maximum colony levy rate, as per the Biosecurity (American Foulbrood – Beekeeper Levy) Order 2003.
Before making a decision, The Management Agency Board considered the increased level of AFB risks faced by beekeepers and The Management Agency, due to the increasing number of abandoned/neglected apiaries, rate of inflation, and rising administrative and operational costs to implement the AFB National Pest Management Plan.
It is important to note that The Management Agency is constantly reviewing its operational expenditure to ensure that we are delivering an efficient and cost-effective service to beekeepers. We take the responsibility of administering beekeeper levy funds very seriously and, as a result, every decision around expense is carefully considered.
Submissions on the levy rate and budget raised some common questions that are answered in the FAQ section below.
Of note are the following clarifications.
- A decline in colony numbers, increased numbers of neglected apiaries, and associated AFB risks
The number of colonies on registered apiaries has declined by 28%; from 817,321 during 2020/21 to 587,208 as of 31 October 2023.
At the same time, the number of neglected apiaries and associated AFB cases has increased; from 117 neglected apiaries with 20 AFB cases (2020/21) to 350 neglected apiaries with 115 AFB cases (2022/23). Only six months into our current 2023/24 year (as of 30 November 2023), 193 neglected apiaries have already been found with 52 cases of AFB. We anticipate this inverse relationship between neglected apiaries and rising AFB cases to continue over the coming year. This is going to have a detrimental impact on progress towards the sector’s AFB elimination goals.
- Operating at a loss
The forecast decline in beekeeper and colony numbers over the next two years will affect The Management Agency’s revenue and the scale at which we can implement the AFB National Pest Management Plan. Despite an increase to the colony levy for 2024/25, The Management Agency is forecasting a revenue loss of $220,000. The notified rate of levy will provide the funding required to continue to respond to increased AFB risks. Meanwhile, we will continue to regularly review The Management Agency’s operational costs and identify cost-saving opportunities.
Important links for further information
Why setting the AFB Levy Rate matters:
American Foulbrood (AFB) is the most serious disease affecting honeybees in Aotearoa. The disease has been subject to legislative control in New Zealand since 1906 and a national pest management plan (AFB PMP) since 1998. In the absence of effective disease controls, AFB has caused a significant decline in honeybee populations, honeybee-related industries, and agricultural production.
Due to the serious impact of AFB, all New Zealand beekeepers have legal obligations to eliminate AFB from their beehives. Implementation of the AFB PMP is funded by the American Foulbrood beekeeper and colony levies and has successfully prevented the reported incidence levels of AFB from increasing to the devastatingly high levels of the late 1980s – early 1990s.
How much is the levy increasing by?
The base levy for each beekeeper is a fixed amount of $40 and will not change. We propose that the colony levy be increased by only 25 cents. The colony levy is well below the legislated cap of $2.55 per colony.
Why is the budget increasing while hive numbers are dropping?
We acknowledge that the economic conditions beekeepers are in are challenging. Here are some reasons why we’re proposing a colony levy increase.
As colony numbers decrease, The Management Agency has been encountering a large proportion of neglected colonies. Many of these have not been managed properly by their beekeepers due to several factors (e.g. economic strain, less staff for disease monitoring and prevention) and they pose a high risk of AFB infection and spread to neighbouring colonies. The sale of old and AFB-infected gear to other beekeepers can also contribute to the spread of AFB. Our AP2s (Authorised Persons) in the field are deployed to inspect such sites to ensure that we are reducing the risk of AFB spread.
Some apiaries are being abandoned as a result of economic strain on beekeepers. Abandoned hives that are not deregistered with The Management Agency pose a higher risk of AFB infection and spread to neighbouring colonies. When responding to notifications of AFB, we are finding that abandoned hives are a source of AFB. We’re here to help. If you are leaving beekeeping, we can provide advice on how to deregister your operation and ensure that your hives and gear are free of AFB. Call us on 0800 AFB PMP (0800 232 767) or email [email protected]
Why is the colony levy the same for hobby and commercial beekeepers?
The colony levy is applied per colony. You only pay for the number of colonies you own. The Management Agency proposes that the colony levy be increased by 25 cents per colony for the 2024/25 year.
Why can’t I manage AFB myself?
One important reason for a collective approach is that under a ‘no control’ or a ‘no NPMP’ approach, the beekeeping industry is forecasted to lose $70 million of income due to AFB over a ten-year period. Beekeeper non-compliance with the NPMP poses the highest risk of AFB spreading. During the recent NPMP consultation, most beekeeper submissions were in favour of the NPMP remaining in place and that The Management Agency continue to support beekeepers in their fight against AFB. Please refer to page 16 of the NPMP Proposal for the ‘no control’ approach forecasting
How many offices does The Management Agency have?
The Management Agency has an office in Rolleston. The Management Agency formerly shared an office with Apiculture NZ in Wellington CBD, however, this has now been closed to keep costs down.
How well do you know what you need to know about AFB and beekeeping? Take our short quiz and find out.
Our videos cover everything from your legal obligations to how to recognise AFB, collecting cell and bee samples and more.
There’s a lot of good information here, telling you everything you need to know about recognising AFB: the visual symptoms, smell of AFB and more.
New Zealand beekeepers have a number of legal obligations that must be met regarding AFB disease. Read the shortened list in summary, here.
Most hives become infected because bees, honey or equipment have been put into a hive from another hive that is infected with AFB. Lower your chances of an AFB infection by reading this section.
Find out when the next AFB Recognition and Competency Courses, or Refresher Courses are available. These are held throughout the year in various New Zealand locations across the South Island and North Island.