A proposed levy on honey has Hawke's Bay beekeepers worried.

The proposal would levy those with 26 hives or more 10 cents on each kilogram of honey produced - collecting about $2 million dollars a year.

The Apiculture New Zealand levy would bring more investment relating to bee health, biosecurity, education and sustainable beekeeping.

Some Australian beekeepers only pay 2.3 cents per kilo and New Zealand Beekeeping said the levy would "hurt struggling beekeepers financially".


Experienced Hawke's Bay apiarist John Berry said the proposal had caused a lot of tension between beekeepers.

"Last year it wouldn't be so much of a problem, but the price of honey has been coming down and honey is becoming a lot harder to sell. Basically buyers have lost confidence in the market.

"For the last 10 years we've been in a buyers' market where people just couldn't get enough and suddenly there's just too much honey out so buyers think 'the price is going to come down I better just hold off'."

Berry said honey production had significantly lowered because there were now significantly more hives in action.

"There are too many bees, we're getting less honey and you could survive if we were getting more money, but we're getting less money and also less honey, so it's a no-win situation."

Berry said beekeepers were now sitting on unsold honey, but would have to pay the levy whether they sold their honey or not.

"If the price of honey goes down too much or the buyer won't buy, you just put it in drums and you keep it in the shed for a year and you're paying money you haven't got."

While manuka honey was still in high demand, Berry said demand for clover and other mixed blends were declining.


"It's really hard to know whether it's a glitch or something more serious. The reality was that last year the price of honey was as high as it's ever been and a lot of new beekeepers just expected it to stay at that level, but that's not the reality of the world - the more they go up the more they go down."

While it was common for beekeepers to be strongly for or against the levy, Berry said he was sitting on the fence with the matter.

"We've got some very good bee scientists in New Zealand and they're continuously short of funds.

"It would just be great to see them funded because when something serious happens - and there's always new problems in any industry - you need to have people who know what's going on and can deal with it."

"I'm absolutely for research, I'm just concerned that they're going to become an all powerful lobby that won't listen to anybody and it will be dominated by corporate organisations."

Voting is now open and will close on March 1.