Beekeepers say research into controlling the varroa bee mite could save them millions of dollars a year.
Researchers at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland believe a new treatment to control the varroa parasite could be available within the next five to 10 years.
They have found the experimental treatment causes the mite to destroy a targeted gene in itself.
Varroa, which attacks unprotected bee colonies, is the biggest worldwide killer of honey bees.
It was first identified in the North Island 10 years ago and has now spread to most of the country.
Federated Farmers' John Hartnell says controlling it costs beekeepers between $20 and $50 a year per hive.
He expects there will be a backlash to the genetic modification but thinks the benefits might outweigh potential losses.