More than 500 people - including Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy and some of his top officials - are expected at the national Apiculture Industry Conference in Wanganui next week.
Mr Guy will officially open it on Tuesday afternoon.
It's an important conference for the bee industry because it attempts to meld beekeepers into one body that can speak to Government with one voice.
It also has to tackle threats and problems - such as potentially-devastating introduced bee diseases and the lack of money for research in the million dollar industry.
Wanganui beekeepers Neil Farrer and Allan Richards were busy organising it last week.
Mr Richards has been the president of the southern North Island branch of the National Beekeepers' Association of New Zealand. The association is one of the groups that needs to merge. Federated Farmers' Bee Industry Group is another. The third is made up of beekeepers who don't belong to either organisation.
All beekeepers used to belong to the association and pay a compulsory levy that funded research. When government made the levy voluntary many stopped paying it. Those beekeepers left the association, but continued to benefit from work funded by its levy.
Tuesday will be the critical day to bring the groups together and set the industry's future path.
Biosecurity is a big deal for beekeepers. They fear European foulbrood will be introduced to New Zealand if Australian honey imports are permitted.
"It's one of the things that we are dreading, that we haven't got."
The imported pollen that brought the Psa bacteria to New Zealand also brought a bee disease. Hive beetle is another pest beekeepers don't want.
Mr Richards' business breeds queen bees, and he's started using artificial insemination. Bees are so small that it has to be done under a microscope. Introducing new genes that way could make for more disease-resistant bees.
Keeping bees healthy will be a major theme of the conference.
"We're 10-15 years behind the United States, where there are huge problems with colony collapse, due to chemicals in bee foraging areas, diseases and pests and chemicals used by beekeepers. What we're trying to do is keep it off."
The industry could do with $500,000 for research, Mr Farrer said. At present research was fragmented, and what was funded by big companies might not be available to others. If the industry united to fund research then government might also contribute.
Other standouts at the conference could be talks from Dr Karyne Rogers about manuka honey and its controversial adulteration, and about trees to feed bees. Northland's Kauri Park nursery, which has a branch in Palmerston North, is growing manuka to plant out into forests to feed bees.
Wanganui Mayor Annette Main's talk at 9.15am tomorrow will be about keeping bees in the city.
"She needs to explain herself. The present council plan doesn't allow it, but some councils do. Auckland City Council have got beehives on the town hall roof."
The first two days of the conference are for hobby beekeepers with 10 hives or less, and 150 people have registered for tomorrow.
There will also be 56 trade stalls and demonstrations about the safe use of chainsaws and quad bikes. Members of the public are welcome to wander among the stalls and learn more.