The National Beekeepers Association is 100 this year. And the centenary is being celebrated at the association's annual conference in Ashburton this week.
The national president, Barry Foster, says the industry has had its ups and downs since regional groups of beekeepers formed the national body in 1913.
''The 1930's were very difficult for beekeepers,'' he said. ''But World War II saw the Government require supply of 70% of the crop for the war effort.''
Mr Foster said beekeeping numbers at the highest they have ever been, with more than 4000 registered keepers and about 420,000 hives.
But, he said, honey bees are now under greater threat than ever before from pests and diseases, led by varroa.