Advanced Search | Help
Bees are crucial to New Zealand’s primary sector, pollinating around one third of our food sources. Bees also produce many different types of honey (clover, manuka, thyme and many other varietals) as well as a variety of other bee products such as beeswax, pollen, propolis, and live bees for export. Although New Zealand is only a very small honey producer on the world stage, in recent years up to half of the honey produced here has been exported.
MPI is involved in many aspects of the bee industry. MPI Food Safety is responsible for establishing regulatory requirements for the production and processing of bee products and for providing official assurances (export certificates) for bee products. If you are a beekeeper, or you process, sell, or export honey or other bee products, the requirements you need to meet under MPI food safety guidelines and standards can be viewed at this link: http://www.foodsafety.govt.nz/industry/sectors/honey-bee/
MPI Biosecurity is responsible for providing leadership across the biosecurity system. One of their roles is in establishing policy and standards for importers and exporters of honey, bees and bee related products.
If you are planning to import any bee products you will need to check out Import Health Standards. This will outline the requirements that must be undertaken in the exporting country, during transit and during importation, before biosecurity clearance can be given.
Import Health Standards
In the late 1980s, the Australian government began seeking access to the New Zealand market for honey. An import risk analysis on honey imports was completed in 2004. After a series of legal challenges an independent review panel in 2008 was appointed to consider whether MPI had sufficient regard to the scientific evidence in developing an import health standard for Australian honey. In 2009 the panel provided the following recommendations. Further research continues around this issue and a decision on the import of Australian honey is expected around the beginning of 2012.
Live honey bees (Apis mellifera) and bumble bees (Bombus spp.) from New Zealand that are exported overseas must meet the importing countries import requirements. If you are an exporter of animal products (i.e. live bees) and honey, then you need to comply with the Animal Products Act 1999. For details on export of bees and other bee products see Exporting Animals and Animal Products.
If you want to sell your honey and do not require export certification you need to register your operation with your local Council. Any beekeeping operation which extracts, packs and processes or stores bee products for export with official assurances must have a risk management programme registered with MPI Food Safety. For further information on selling honey see Honey and Bee Products.
Tutin in Honey
All beekeepers in the North Island and the top part of the South Island need to be aware of the risk of poisoning from toxic honey containing tutin and take appropriate precautions. Toxic honeydew can be secreted by insects feeding on the sap of the tutu bush (Coriaria arborea), a native shrub commonly found on forest margins, stream banks and roadsides. Bees can gather this honeydew under certain conditions, and the resulting honey is extremely poisonous.
The 2010 Food (Tutin in Honey) Standard is provided under MPI Food Safety and provides beekeepers and honey packers with mandatory options to ensure they meet the maximum level for tutin in honey for human consumption. This standard under the Food Act 1981 applies to all honey for sale for human consumption and for export. Further information.
The New Zealand beekeeping industry is composed of 3267 registered beekeepers with 23 449 apiaries containing 390 523 hives of bees (as at June 30 2011).
If you keep bees in New Zealand it is a legal requirement that you register your hives. Contact AsureQuality for registration forms or more information. All beekeepers are required by a National Pest Management Strategy under the Biosecurity Act 1993 to register all their apiaries and to provide an annual report on their disease status. MPI and the National Beekeepers’ Association maintain a register which contains information on all beekeepers, including the location of their apiaries and the disease status of the bees for biosecurity purposes
A list of notifiable organisims which specifically affect honey bees are outlined in the Biosecurity (Notifiable Organisms) Order 2010 and in the table below.
American foulbrood (AFB) disease has been present in New Zealand since 1877 and is under a National Pest Management Strategy led by the bee industry. The presence of a single diseased larva with American foulbrood means the colony must be destroyed and the Management Agency for American Foulbrood National Pest Management Strategy must be notified within 7 days. This management agency’s website http://afb.org.nz/ provides additional information on AFB and provides information on what courses are available to assist beekeepers in eliminating AFB in New Zealand managed colonies.
Varroa is an external parasite of honey bees discovered in the North Island in 2000 and the South Island in 2006. Beekeepers should monitor varroa mite levels within their hives and treat before numbers rise to damaging levels. For more information click on varroa or to download a guide book on controlling varroa in hives click on control-of-varroa-guide.
Pseudomonas syringae pv actinidiae (Psa) is a bacterial disease of kiwifruit that has implications for beekeepers. Refer to http://www.biosecurity.govt.nz/pests/kiwifruit-vine-disease for information on Psa and areas affected or view Kiwifruit Vine Health (KVH) website for a protocol for beekeepers - Pollination with Bees available at www.kvh.org.nz/indpollen.
If you think you have an exotic pest or disease in your hive contact: MPI biosecurity or phone 0800 80 99 66.
The Honey bee Exotic Disease Surveillance Programme is funded and managed by MPI. The goal of the programme is to detect an exotic honey bee pest or disease early enough for an eradication attempt to be considered and to enable New Zealand to make country freedom statements with respect to these exotic pests and diseases. This helps New Zealand to gain access to overseas markets for bees, honey and other bee products.
The Honey Bee Exotic Disease Programme targets apiaries at ‘high risk’ sites. These apiaries are more at risk of invasion or infection because of their proximity to ports, airports, transitional facilities, and tourist destinations which provide pathways for introduction and transport of pests and diseases.
Another component of the surveillance programme is to educate the beekeeping industry in the identification of exotic pests and diseases, the chances of finding an incursion early are greatly increased if all beekeepers check their hives regularly for potential signs of exotic pests and diseases.
MPI annually produces an Apiculture Farm Monitoring Report which outlines honey production across New Zealand, current bee products financial returns, the number of registered hives and beekeepers in New Zealand as well as a commentary on issues and trends affecting the sector.
Surveillance Quarterly online provides useful information on MPI biosecurity surveillance programmes and once a year includes information on the honey bee exotic disease surveillance report. Look out for the annual honey bee exotic disease surveillance report in each September issue.
To subscribe to the Surveillance publication online: Go to http://www.biosecurity.govt.nz/publications/surveillance/index.htm and click Subscribe in the shaded box at the top of the page. (Please don't forget to add what organisation you are from when filling in the subscription details. This will help us in the future to tailor information to different types of readerships)
There are two main industry bodies for Bees:
The National Beekeepers Association and Federated Farmers Bees. Both provide useful sources of information and updates on issues in the industry.