The value of New Zealand’s honey exports has grown almost 130% over the last five years, and has the potential to keep growing.
Around a third of New Zealand's total honey production, and 23 percent of the nation's registered hive and apiaries are located in the central and lower North Island, which includes Taranaki.
Bees, honey and associated products are adding value to Taranaki’s economy
The pollination of trees, shrubs and plants is critical to the economic and environmental health of Taranaki and New Zealand, and while pollination can be carried out by various pollinators, most food and pastoral crops are pollinated by honey bees.
The economic value of honey bees nationally is estimated $5.1 billion per annum, on the basis it underpins a critical component of our primary sector and export activity, such as dairy and horticulture.
Honey bees also produce honey, bees wax, pollen, propolis, venom and royal jelly and New Zealand also exports live bees. Honey and associated by products are being increasingly sought after in medical applications, cosmetics and health-related fields.
There is also an increasing diversity of products, technologies and services crossing the spectrum from farm to market, which is emerging in tandem with the evolving honey and apiculture industry.
Honey production is increasing in Taranaki and New Zealand generally, triggered largely by increasing consumer interest in mānuka and associated products nationally and globally. Export tonnage is 27% higher now than five years ago and the value of honey exports has increased 130%.
As a result, demand for rural land for the placement of hives has increased significantly. As at June 2016 there were 684,046 registered hives in New Zealand – an increase of 100,000 in the past 12 months.
From farm to market – leveraging the opportunities
This growth in demand has fostered new opportunities for farmers and business people in Taranaki. The provision of land and sites for hives, conversion of marginal land to manuka and other commercial bee and honey related activities, has increased primary sector diversification options.
Farmers considering involvement in the industry may seek information on the various options, their financial implications, what is required, capital and infrastructure, suitability of the property (e.g. what constitutes a good apiary site), risk analysis, types of contractual agreements, regulations and safeguards to consider e.g. health and safety, disease control, bee health, and forging relationships with reputable companies.
Useful contacts include Federated Farmers and Apiculture NZ and background information on the industry and land use is also available on Venture Taranaki’s Manuka Conference resource page.
Keeping it local – Taranaki’s honey companies and bee keepers
Farmers, residents and consumers can utilise Taranaki bee keepers and honey companies to access expertise, keep their produce local and support local companies and jobs. One of the potential advantages of using local companies is that they can work cooperatively with landowners and each other, avoid overstocking, boundary stocking, and other practices that can negatively impact overall honey production, bee health, and economic returns.
Building skills, knowledge and innovation
Fostering industry growth is also enabled through promoting and supporting business opportunities, development of capability and skills, innovation and export development.
Ensuring best practice
Knowledge of the regulations and standards underpinning the industry are important to ensure best practice, bee health, health and safety, bio-security, and the prevention of disease and pests. Doing business with reputable companies, accessing appropriate advice, reporting concerns such as unregistered hives or thefts and joining local and national industry networks helps to build the foundation of a positive industry and good practices within the region.
- The Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) is working with the industry to improve productivity, support marketing and export opportunities, and control pests and diseases.
- Information about bee health and disease can be sourced from MPI, Apiculture NZ, the Management Agency (AFB), Asurequality.
- All bee hives and apiary sites in New Zealand must be registered. You can register online here as well as report any concerns about potentially unregistered sites.
- Local Councils can provide guidance on any policies that relate to food and industry activities.
- Health and safety information can be sourced from Worksafe NZ.
- Planting for bees to assist bee health and good nutrition can be accessed from the Trees For Bees site.
- Federated Farmers offer guidance on best practice including contracts and connection points, especially for farmers and landowners.
- Apiculture NZ offer industry guidance and are working with the Government and other bodies on guidelines and best practice.
Taranaki Honey Company Collective
Taranaki's honey producers have formed a collective to grow the industry. You can read more about the Taranaki Honey Company Collective here.