The Government has launched a plan aiming to boost primary sector export earnings by $44 billion over the next decade.
O’Connor at the annual conference of Agcarm launched a full-scale attack on the industry, saying some beekeepers’ behaviour is putting the exports of honey at risk.
Many need a good shake-up, he said, pointing to alarming incidences of colony collapse. The health of the bee industry must improve, he said.
“The bee industry is the wild west of the primary sector. They have grown very quickly and not always in a sensible and rational way. I have told them that directly and we are happy to work with the sector to bring it into some order and to get more collaboration and a united sense of direction.”
O’Connor has also accused the industry of what he calls bee abuse.
“If you have overstocking and bees that are hungry and not being fed properly or not fed the right stuff, then that’s not good. Traditionally we have had a sound approach to all our livestock management and bees are no different; they need to be looked after and not abused for a commercial opportunity,” he says.
O’Connor says he personally has a passion for bees, describing them as amazing insects. But commercial opportunities have caused behaviour not always good for hive management and disease control.