The Kiwifruit industry is the largest employer in the Opotiki region. An economic juggernaut that is reliant on the supply of healthy bees for pollination in spring.

However Opotiki beekeepers are worried too many hives are now being placed in the region, threatening the survival of the pollinating bees.

The owner of Hikutaia Honey, Alan Pimm said he has already experienced a decline in the health of his bees due to the arrival of new hives nearby.

"Lately, there's been corporates from out of town focusing on Manuka honey, with little regard for the sustainability of bees, just interested in a quick dollar," Mr Pimm said.


Traditionally there's been a gentlemen's agreement about the placement of hives with local businesses communicating with each other. But Mr Pimm is concerned that is no longer happening.

"They dump their bees and just hope for the best, with little regard for stocking rates," Mr Pimm said.

The head of Settlers Honey, Henry Matthews said he believes there is enough resources for his hives in the areas they are being placed. Although he declined an offer to speak on camera, he issued a statement saying: "Settlers Honey wouldn't do anything that's not commercially viable."

Opotiki beekeepers don't accept that.

"We can't compete with the money some of these people are offering to the landowners, it's not sustainable anyway. We know this because we live in the area. They come in here with little knowledge of the floral sources and food supply that the bees require to survive and thrive in this area," Mr Pimm said.

OPAC Technical Manager Chris Anstis said "Bees and pollination is one of the most important parts of growing a kiwifruit crop."

"The sustainability of the beekeeping industry in the area is important for our business, and the kiwifruit industry overall," Mr Anstis said.

Currently the industry is not regulated. Opotiki beekeepers don't want that to change, but they do want newcomers to talk to them before placing new hives in their patch.

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