[6 October/ New Zealand Herald]

The number of beehives in New Zealand is expected to reach one million by Christmas. Dunedin Beekeepers’ Club President Brian Pilley said there had been a large increase in the hobby over the past two to three years, however, urges those interested in hobby beekeeping to ensure they have the appropriate mentoring, education and support networks in place before they begin. Inexperienced beekeepers could cause problems for other apiarists, particularly issues such as varroa mite and American foulbrood. Apiculture New Zealand Non-Commercial Board Member Paul Martin said there had been a surge of beehives and beekeepers over the past ten years, of which a large proportion are hobbyists. Mr Martin added New Zealand has almost 8500 and about 6000 have ten hives or less. Mr Martin attributes the interest to people seeing the earning potential of manuka honey. Mr Martin said while there may be less risk associated with hobbyists’ hives, hobbyists needed to understand what they were doing to manage and identify diseases, and appreciate legal requirements around registrations and inspections.