Beekeeping in New Zealand

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Beekeeping in New Zealand started as a home craft in the 1850s, not long after initial European settlement and is now an established industry as well as being a hobby activity.


New Zealand had 2,944 registered beekeepers in September 2010, who owned more than 377,000 hives in over 22,000 apiaries.[1] In 2007 total honey production was 9.7 thousand tonnes. The production of manuka honey, valued for its antibacterial properties, is increasingly important. Pollen, beeswax, and propolis are also produced. Beekeepers provide pollination services to horticulturists, which generates more income than the products of bee culture. Approximately 20–25 thousand queen bees, and 20 tonnes of packaged bees (which include worker bees and a queen) are exported live each year.[2]

The National Beekeepers' Association of New Zealand established "National Bee Week".[3]

The Green Party are calling for a phase out of pesticides that are toxic to bees as is happening in the European Union.[4]

Honey containing the poisonous tutin can be produced by bees feeding on honeydew produced by sap-sucking vine hopper insects (Scolypopa genus) feeding on tutu, a plant native to New Zealand.[5] The last recorded deaths from eating honey containing tutin were in the 1890s.[6]

In May 2011 there were fears the colony collapse disorder had begun in New Zealand. Losses of up to 30% had been reported with Canterbury and Poverty Bay being hardest hit.[7]

Pest and diseases[edit]

Pests include Nosema apis, Malpighamoeba mellifica and acarine mites. American foulbrood is present in a small percentage of hives with Sac brood and Chalk brood occurring in isolated cases.[8]

American foulbrood[edit]

American foulbrood has been present in New Zealand since 1877.[9]

European foulbrood[edit]

European foulbrood is not present in New Zealand.[10] In the 1990s suspected cases of European foulbrood were found and a wider survey of hives was carried out but the samples proved to be negative.[11]

Varroa mite[edit]

The Varroa destructor mite, a parasite that attacks honey bees, was discovered in the North Island of New Zealand in 2000 and the South Island in 2008.[12] The Varroa mite is classed as a "Notifiable Organism" under the Biosecurity Act.[13]


Former or current legislation relevant to beekeeping in New Zealand include:[14]

There is also legislation relating to the bee products themselves.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Interesting facts". National Beekeepers Association of NZ. Retrieved 18 April 2011. 
  2. ^ New Zealand Official Yearbook, 2008, p 370
  3. ^ National Bee Week – National Beekeepers' Association of New Zealand
  4. ^ Stop poisoning Bees
  5. ^ Background on toxic honey, New Zealand Food Safety Authority
  6. ^ Johnston, Martin. Specialists expected tutin honey outbreak, New Zealand Herald. 26 March 2008.
  7. ^ Chug, Kuran (7 May 2011). "Fears bee colony collapse has arrived". Dominion Post. Retrieved 7 May 2011. 
  8. ^ Palmer-Jones, T (1964). "Diseases of honey bees in New Zealand" (PDF). The New Zealand Entomologist (New Zealand Entomological Society, Inc) 3 (3): 41–44. 
  9. ^ "History". American foulbrood Pest Management Strategy. Retrieved 5 February 2011. 
  10. ^ "European foulbrood disease". MAF Biosecurity New Zealand. 22 October 2008. Archived from the original on 29 December 2010. Retrieved 4 February 2011. 
  11. ^ "European foulbrood disease: Status of New Zealand’s honey bees". MAF Biosecurity New Zealand. 7 August 2008. Archived from the original on 30 December 2010. Retrieved 4 February 2011. 
  12. ^ Varroa Mite | MAF Biosecurity New Zealand
  13. ^ Biosecurity New Zealand – Unwanted Organisms Register
  14. ^ Matheson, Andrew; Murray Reid (2011-08-05). Practical Beekeeping in New Zealand. Exisle Publishing. ISBN 978-1-877568-52-7. 
  15. ^ "Apiaries" (PDF). New Zealand government. 1908. Retrieved 26 January 2012. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]