KI honey producers face challenges but get top dollar

Kangaroo Island honey producers and their bees are gearing up for what hopefully will be a productive spring and summer.

Island Beehive owner Peter Davis for the 10th year hosted a delegation of Japanese visitors, who sell the Island's clean and green products, including honey.

Mr Davis told the visitors that the Island's honey industry suffered during last year's very dry summer, but hopes were up for a better year this year.

Not only are KI's beekeepers currently busy multiplying and moving their hives, the queen bees are busy making new queens so the hives could be divided.

Honey production around the globe meanwhile was being impacted on by a range of factors from disease, loss of flower habitat to feed on and climate change.

While production had been down on the Island as well, the Island's beekeepers were still seeing top dollar as their product was organically certified.

So for example, while bees wax used to sell for $7 a kilogram, now the organic product able to be used in cosmetics was now fetching upwards of $32 a kilogram.

But Mr Davis said the Island had to work hard to keep its organic status and also fight to protect its brand name.

It was only in recent weeks that local beekeepers became aware of honey being sold as "Kangaroo Island honey" in mainland supermarkets.

This was unlikely as all the honey produced last year would have been sold by KI honey businesses, he said.

"There was simply not enough produced to go into a supermarket brand," Mr Davis said, adding that the Island's KI Business and Brand Alliance was looking into the particular product and any potentially false claims.

Mr Davis thanked the Island's grain marketing body, KI Pure Grain for starting the relationship with the Palsystem Consumers' Co-operative Union in Japan.

He was proud that KI honey was being sold a clean and green product in the Palsystem catalogue to the 500,000 members of the co-operative. Hopefully more KI products could be added and sold in Japan, he said.