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 6,735 registered beekeepers in June 2016, who owned more than 600,000 hives in over 42,000 apiaries.[1] In 2015/16 total honey production was 19.8 thousand tonnes. The production of manuka honey, valued for its antibacterial properties, is increasingly important. Pollen, beeswax, and propolis are also produced and exported. Beekeepers provide pollination services to horticulturists, which used to generate more income than the products of bee culture. However, rising honey prices have pushed pollination fees to keep up. Approximately 42 thousand live queen bees, and 38 tonnes of packaged bees (which include approximately one kilogram of worker bees to support the 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 (genus Scolypopa) 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] This suspicion was not confirmed, but high losses with an etiology matching CCD could be observed in parts of the North Island in 2015,[8] reigniting these fears.

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.[9]

American foulbrood[edit]

American foulbrood has been present in New Zealand since 1877.[10]

European foulbrood[edit]

European foulbrood is not present in New Zealand.[11] 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.[12]

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.[13] The Varroa mite is classed as a "Notifiable Organism" under the Biosecurity Act.[14]


Former or current legislation relevant to beekeeping in New Zealand include:[15]

There is also legislation relating to the bee products themselves.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ 2016 Apiculture Monitoring Programme
  2. ^ Farm Monitoring Report NZ- Apiculture Report 2014
  3. ^ National Bee Week – National Beekeepers' Association of New Zealand
  4. ^ "Stop poisoning Bees". Archived from the original on 10 May 2009. Retrieved 8 May 2009.
  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. ^
  9. ^ 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. Archived from the original (PDF) on 21 July 2011.
  10. ^ "History". American foulbrood Pest Management Strategy. Retrieved 5 February 2011.
  11. ^ "European foulbrood disease". MAF Biosecurity New Zealand. 22 October 2008. Archived from the original on 29 December 2010. Retrieved 4 February 2011.
  12. ^ "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.
  13. ^ "Varroa Mite | MAF Biosecurity New Zealand". Archived from the original on 4 July 2008. Retrieved 17 November 2008.
  14. ^ Biosecurity New Zealand – Unwanted Organisms Register
  15. ^ Matheson, Andrew; Murray Reid (5 August 2011). Practical Beekeeping in New Zealand. Exisle Publishing. ISBN 978-1-877568-52-7.
  16. ^ "Apiaries" (PDF). New Zealand government. 1908. Retrieved 26 January 2012.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]