6 Nov 2012

Manuka honey sector hopes for better harvest

6:26 am on 6 November 2012

Beekeepers in the North Island's main manuka honey gathering areas are hoping for a better harvest in the coming season to make up for a huge drop in production last summer.

While the wet North Island summer was a boon for clover honey production, it was a wash-out for the most valuable variety, manuka.

Estimates vary, but New Zealand Honey Specialties general manager Peter Cox of Otago says reports from bee-keepers indicate that the past season's manuka production was only 20% of a normal year.

Mr Cox says his company will be looking for long term supply contracts.

National beekeepers president Barry Foster who's in the Gisborne area, says his manuka harvest was down by two thirds .

''It was probably my worst season,'' he said.

Mr Foster said East Coast beekeepers are looking forward to the drier, warmer summer that's been predicted.

Conditions are already drying-off in the Gisborne area, to the frustration of growers trying to get crops established.