The number of bees across the world is declining at an alarming rate yet we depend on bees for our survival.
Given an estimated third of the food we consume each day is reliant on pollination by bees, for World Bee Day on Monday, Egmont Honey is encouraging everyone to spread awareness of the significance of bees for our survival.
We ask Egmont Honey founder James Annabell some questions:
How did Egmont Honey begin?
While playing professional rugby in Hong Kong, I was approached by a New Zealand honey company to establish their Asian market. I did this for a couple of years before moving back to New Zealand to continue work in the industry. I quickly discovered that I wasn't entirely happy with the direction of my role and the industry at the time, and decided to go it alone with Egmont Honey.
What's your advice for people who want to get into making honey?
Don't underestimate the amount of work involved. We always recommend people join their local bee club to learn the fundamentals. In particular it's vital that people are able to diagnose bee diseases. Also, be very mindful of your neighbours. Bees don't have any discretion as to where they 'do their business', and it stains washing and cars!
Obviously, bees are important to you but why should anyone else care about saving them?
The rate of decline in bee numbers, and insects in general is terrifying. As the world's most important pollinator of food crops, we literally depend on bees for our existence and survival.
What does Egmont Honey do to play its part in looking after the bees?
We have a dedicated team of beekeepers that watch over our 4000 hives throughout the year. We're very careful to transport our hives as little as possible, as this can be stressful for the bees. Unlike other honey companies, we don't move our hives outside of the region. Of our proceeds, 5per cent are aimed exclusively at increasing bee populations.
How can people do their bit to look after the bees?
There are a few things that everyone can do to help out:
If you need to spray your garden, check with your local garden or hardware store that you're using a bee-friendly weedkiller, there are some good options on the market. If you are spraying, do it early morning or at sunset when bees are less active.
Provide fresh, pesticide-free drinking water in your garden. Bees need to drink routinely just like humans and if the weather is hot enough they will cease foraging for pollen all together, to seek out water exclusively.
Bee-friendly planting. It's helpful if people can plant flowers for multiple seasons, to ensure a steady source of nectar and pollen all year round. Planting in large clusters of each species will also help attract bees.
Most unconventional way you eat honey?
My wife uses manuka honey for hair and facial treatments. It looks a bit strange at times, but the results are great.
What's happening in the New Zealand honey industry at the moment?
It has undergone significant change over the past few years, and there have been considerable shifts in consumer trends in some of the traditional manuka export markets, particularly Asia. Also a greater number of younger, nimbler organisations like ourselves are operating in the market. These two factors is leading to product innovation, that will see some exciting value-add propositions launched over the next year.