5 Dec 2017

Honey producers abuzz over promising harvest

10:02 am on 5 December 2017

A bumper honey harvest is on the cards for beekeepers around the country, according to Apiculture New Zealand.

The Ministry for Primary Industries wants to be able to more accurately define the properties of manuka honey.

Photo: RNZ / Diego Opatowski

The industry body said it was early days, but this year's honey production season was shaping up to be one of the best in years.

The season runs from October to February and the recent warm weather has helped boost production.

Apiculture New Zealand chief executive Karin Kos said it was a complete turnaround from last year's poor season.

Last year's season hit the industry hard, with Comvita's profits halving to just under $10 million.

Ms Kos said so far, things were looking positive.

"This year's honey production season overall is looking pretty promising," she said.

"As you'd expect though, there are regional variations. I've been speaking to keepers in the upper North Island, and they said initially it was touch and go with cold unsettled weather."

"But the warm weather has arrived and with the right level of moisture things have definitely picked up.

"The same goes for the Bay of Plenty area. They haven't had much in the way of early honey, with a cold spring, but the weather's warming up so it's looking like it should be a good season."

She said beekeepers in the South Island were very optimistic.

"The Otago beekeepers for example say it's shaping up to be very good ... they've had great spring weather conditions, not too much wind, reasonably mild, and so plenty of time for the bees to get out and about collecting nectar."

She warned things could still turn if conditions became too dry in the coming months.

Niwa forecasts New Zealand will experience warmer than average temperatures this summer, and most of the country will be in for a dry season.

"Our biggest concern would be lack of rain as things dry out but, touch wood, it's been a good spring and we do get a bit of rain and moisture over the next few months.

"We will hopefully have a better season than last years', which was probably the worst we've had in 10 years."

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