20 Oct 2010

Zespri increases beehive audits

1:50 pm on 20 October 2010

Kiwifruit marketer Zespri is doubling its effort this season to make sure that beehives used for pollination are up to scratch.

It has increased the number of auditors being trained to check the quality of hives, from six to more than twenty.

Bees are the main pollinators of kiwifruit, which rely on insect activity to move pollen between the male and female vines.

Zespri orchard productivity manager Shane Max says it wants to ensure that vines have the best possible chance of successful pollination, particularly for growers of the green Hayward variety, which is fetching a low return.

Mr Max says under Kiwifruit Pollination Association standards, a pollination hive should have at least a dozen frames of bees, a queen and room for the colony to expand.

Some beekeepers in the Bay of Plenty are introducing their own independent auditing of pollination hives.

Mark Silson, who supplies hives to about 1700 avocado and kiwifruit orchards in the Bay of Plenty, is one of them.

He says beekeepers are facing more issues with hive management now, with the varroa mite and other pests and diseases affecting on quality and bee numbers.