Watching beekeepers prepare hives and thinking there had to be a better and more cost-effective way is gaining a Whanganui company international recognition within the industry.

Local businessman Rob Bartley is directly involved in the honey industry, running hundreds of hives in the Waimarino.

But it was his invention that was named winner of the Roy Paterson Trophy for innovation presented at the Apiculture New Zealand conference in Rotorua this week.

Hiveplus is a company working under the umbrella of the Bartley Group, and manager Lynda Hocquard was at the conference to accept the award.


Ms Hocquard said interest in the hive tray Mr Bartley invented was "overwhelming".

The simple plastic tray replaces a convoluted and expensive base currently used on hives. It has a removable plastic strip along its front which beekeepers can turn over for summer or winter conditions. It also features a ventilation panel underneath to regulate hive temperature. "Instead of fiddling with little bits of timber and buying mesh, this plastic tray does all of that and very cheaply. It's such a simple solution."

Not only has it been created in Whanganui but another local company - Axiam Plastics - is producing it.

Mr Bartley said his honey business has 400 hives in the Ruatiti area and that would increase to 800 this season.

"I was watching our beekeepers making up hive bases and I thought there had to be an easier way. We came up with a couple of prototypes and took them to Axiam," he said.

He said it wasn't just the national award that mattered. There had been "huge interest" from New Zealand and international beekeepers. Samples of the Whanganui product have gone to honey producers in Israel, the Philippines, Australia and Canada.

Mr Bartley said the design has been patented.

He said Hiveplus had been established to specifically target the beekeeping industry and more products were on the drawing board.