Local beekeepers are facing the worst season in years as Hawke's Bay continues to be battered by strong westerly winds and little rain.

Arataki Honey export manager Rhys Flack said the spell of rain last weekend would not be enough to save the honey season.

Ideal conditions for optimal production requires nice and warm sunny days with a little bit of moisture to keep everything fresh.

"The long period of dry and windy weather dried out the pasture and meant there was nothing for the bees to collect. Production is well down on last year and it has been a very challenging season."


Mr Flack said they would usually be harvesting right through to March or April but this year they had already finished.

Instead of collecting more honey the beekeepers had turned their focus to preliminary work early.

"We are concentrating on getting them back in to good health and making sure they are strong for the winter rather than the honey."

One local beekeeper seeing the effects was Kevin Tinker.

Mr Tinker was a beekeeper in Zimbabwe before he moved out to New Zealand to continue his passion.

He said since moving to the country this was the worst year by far and he was hoping for a late honey flow.

"Nothing has materialised yet and most sites don't have enough honey to even survive the winter. The younger hives will definitely have to be nursed through the winter."

He was hoping the pumpkin crop and indigenous trees in some areas would bring this late honey flow.

"This won't help the bottom line but I am just wanting to get the bees through the winter."

Another local beekeeper who also found this to be the worst in years was Dee Corbett.

She owns 120 hives and said her crop was a third of what it had been like in the past 10 years.

One site where she usually harvested three times during the summer had only just been harvested for the first time on Tuesday and won't be done again.

"This problem is widespread and hasn't just happened for one or two months but it has been across the entire season starting with the warm winter."

This warm winter meant the bees didn't rest well and were worn out going in to spring.

Ms Corbett said along with the bees being worn out the flowering levels were lower due to the dryness and even if the clovers were flowering they weren't producing nectar.

"The bees were working hard and getting nothing in return. They don't have enough honey to sustain themselves let alone produce for us."

For the first time in 10 years Ms Corbett was going to have to feed her bees syrup to make sure they were strong enough going into autumn and winter.

Apiculture New Zealand chief executive officer Karin Kos said these messages from beekeepers were consistent across the board.

She said the reports all pointed to consistent un-seasonal weather causing less flowering and production of honey.

"This very dry and windy weather is not conducive to honey and due to the nature of the industry unfortunately it is weather dependent."

Mr Tinker being a farmer was staying positive and said he was confident next season would be much better.