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Building a sustainable future for the honey and bee industry

A shared aspiration for providing the world’s most discerning consumers with outstanding ethically produced food, all sourced from Aotearoa New Zealand, sees close alignment between the work of Apiculture New Zealand (ApiNZ) within Fit for A Better World.

Karen Kos

Karen Kos – Chief Executive, Apiculture New Zealand

Honeybees play a critical role in New Zealand’s primary sector, pollinating key agricultural and horticultural crops and producing unique honeys that are sought after around the world. And so, it should be no surprise that maintaining strong and healthy bee colonies is one of ApiNZ’s key platforms in supporting a sustainable industry. This has resulted in the recent delivery of The New Zealand Honeybee Care Code™, which specifies practices of care that ensure honeybees are treated humanely with their physical, health and behavioural needs taken into account.  

We will be asking all beekeepers to sign up to the Code, starting with our ApiNZ members. For our consumers, who are increasingly driven by values around sustainability and ethics, the Code sends a strong signal that New Zealand beekeepers are committed to prioritising bee health.  

Our focus on bee health comes with the recognition that we need to lift skills and expertise in our sector.  The industry has seen a significant growth in both the number of hives and new beekeepers and beekeeping businesses, including iwi businesses. Today we have over 800,000 registered hives and close to 10,000 beekeepers, which includes around 7,000 hobbyists.

Our challenge, in light of a very tight labour market, has been providing a meaningful career path to attract New Zealanders keen to work in this industry. That has led to an industry-led apprenticeship programme build momentum over the last few years, as well as a suite of specific business tools under our BeeSmart Toolkit to help our members run professional businesses.  These range from managing the health and safety of employees, to bringing on new staff and supporting our members through the Covid-19 pandemic.

Ensuring we have the right infrastructure, people and quality platforms in place not only supports our thriving agriculture and horticulture sectors, and delivers high-quality honeys to our consumers, it also contributes to Fit for a Better World’s goal of "rebuilding a better, stronger, more sustainable and more innovative primary sector”.

*Apiculture New Zealand is the national body representing the apiculture industry in New Zealand including commercial and non-commercial beekeepers, packers and exporters, affiliated clubs, and associations