It is still too early to say for certain, but the buzz around Otago apiarists in this year's honey production season is shaping up to be one of the best in years.

Dunedin Beekeepers' Club president Brian Pilley said many beekeepers had reported good honey production in their hives already and there were strong signs it would be a great season.

He believed the influx was caused by good spring weather conditions.

"We haven't had a lot of wind, we've had a good amount of rain at the right times, and the weather's been reasonably mild.


"So there's been plenty of time for the bees to get out and fly."

However, Pilley was careful about promising high amounts of honey.

"I said the same thing last year — the signs looked good — but then the weather pooped itself around Christmas and we produced the worst crop in about 30 years.

"If we get a really cold spell [the bees] could eat the honey that's on the hives. At this stage of the game, it's looking very good, but it's still early days.

"Normally the flow starts around here on the Taieri Plain about Christmas Day. That's when it really cranks up."

Milburn Apiaries owner Allen McCaw agreed.

He said it all came down to the weather. If it remained warm, moist and calm, it could be a very productive year.

He has been commercial beekeeping in Milburn for more than 40 years and believed all the early signs were positive.


"It's shaping up to be a much better season than last year, but that wouldn't be difficult."

McCaw said the biggest concern apiarists had at the moment was the lack of rain across the region.

"Things are rapidly drying out.

"Dry air can often mean a better honey production year, particularly early on. But in places like Central Otago and Middlemarch, they're getting worried because it can burn off so quickly in there."

If there was a little more rainfall over the next month, the prospects looked good, he said.

"Ask me again in another month's time and I'll tell you whether it's turned into what we thought.

"We've got our fingers crossed."

Pilley believed even if it was a good year for honey production, it was unlikely to bring the price of honey down.

Retailers charged up to $24 per kg of honey, or more for premium brands, but beekeepers only received about half of that.

He said the high quality of New Zealand honey made it popular around the world, and that demand drove prices up.

"I don't see the price coming down in New Zealand because demand from overseas is so high.

"And also, with the New Zealand dollar dropping, it puts more pressure on the local prices."