Sponsors Site map Contact us

Context & background

Pollinator security is now a critical issue in the productive sector.  Food security for New Zealand and competitive export production requires strong reliable honey bee populations.  Planned nutrition for bees on farms will generate higher yields for farmers through superior pollination services. Honey bees are under increasing threat now that varroa resistance to miticides has begun in the North Island. Varroa has recently spread throughout all of New Zealand so resistance is an inevitable national problem. The long term effects of varroa are serious as seen in Europe and North America. Compounding these effects are the added stresses from new pests and diseases as well as continued pesticide misuse.  Malnutrition or starvation from the accumulated loss of floral resources for bee forage only worsens these problems.

In many regions, land use changes have created a sterile environment which will no longer support enough bee colonies to meet pollination requirements. Removal of noxious weeds that have been traditional bee forage has further reduced protein sources for bees.  The intensification of agricultural systems to large scale monocultures and weed-free environments has resulted in the loss of apiary sites on farms and public land.

At the same time, farmers and producers have an increasing demand for pollinators. One seed company in Canterbury requires 1000 more hives this year but the nearby floral sources for bee forage in this region are not available. The most important period is in spring when bee populations are growing to peak size needed for summer pollination services. A second critical period is in autumn when bees are preparing to survive the winter months.