13 Mar 2012

Challenging year for live bee exporters

3:27 pm on 13 March 2012

Disruptive weather and delays over negotiating new trade conditions have been a challenge for live bee exporters this year.

New Zealand has been exporting bees to Canada for about 25 years to replenish bee populations after the harsh winters there, and to pollinate horticultural crops.

Last year New Zealand's two exporters, Arataki and Kintail, sent their biggest volume of bees to Canada - about 40 tonnes.

Russell Berry of Arataki Honey in Rotorua says they are expecting to ship a similar amount this year.

But the trade was in doubt at one stage, because Canada wanted changes to the export protocols relating to controlling the varroa bee parasite.

Mr Berry says weather conditions have also delayed preparations for for bee shipments with February, for instance, having the lowest amount of sunshine hours ever recorded in the area.

He says a lot of rain has made it difficult to get field work done, and for queen bees to fly to get mated.

Queen bees are exported separately as well as in packages of bees.

Mr Berry says Arataki will send its first shipments for the season in about a week, using direct flights to Vancouver.