29 Mar 2018

Beehive boom putting apiarists on breadline

8:02 pm on 29 March 2018

Beekeepers are warning some in the industry are at risk of going bust because there are too many hives.

Honey output has plummeted.

Honey output has plummeted. Photo: 123RF

The jump in the popularity and price of mānuka honey in recent years has meant a boom in production.

Parliament is holding an inquiry into honey, investigating a range of issues from the health of bees to the health of the industry itself.

Beekeeping New Zealand president Russell Berry said beekeeping was not sustainable at the moment because of the high numbers of hives in New Zealand.

He warned MPs at Parliament this morning that the situation was critical.

"Particularly corporates in manuka, they're overstocking areas and really damaging the beehives, in Hawkes Bay last year they were averaging about 12 kilograms a hive and you can't carrying on beekeeping [at the level] and beekeepers are going to go broke.

"Some of the less efficient beekeepers are probably well on their way to doing that now."

Mr Berry said theft of hives had also become a serious problem as the industry became more profitable.

"When a beehive was worth only ten dollars, well nobody bothered stealing them, but when they're worth a thousand dollars well obviously they're more inclined to steal them.

"Also when they're committed to paying the landowner, say, half a million dollars to put beehives on their properties but they haven't got any beehives, well they go and borrow somebody else's."

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