A long, hot summer doesn't make for magnificent manuka honey production, Whanganui beekeepers found this season.
Only one, Bryn Hudson, the Settlers Honey business development manager, said the season hadn't been too bad.
Sid Soulsby, of Wairangi Gold, said January was usually the best month for honey but this year it was too hot and dry.
"From our point of view it was a shocking season."
Keith Rodie, who has hives in Watershed Rd, agreed.
"We are all licking our wounds a wee bit. We haven't had a bumper crop for some time."
Comvita may be New Zealand's biggest honey company, with 40,000 hives all over the North Island and in the top of the South Island.
Its February 23 market report said only 20 per cent of honey was in and volumes were slightly below average.
Whanganui beekeepers blamed the heat for a poor harvest, but hive numbers have increased and there may also have been too many bees.
"There's a lot of bees coming out of different hives all trying to get onto the same nectar," Mr Hudson said.
Manuka flowers at different times in different places. In Northland it's September-October-November, in Whanganui December, and January-February in high country.
Mr Rodie has heard the honey season in Northland was a complete write-off, but that the North Island's central plateau did reasonably well.
Beekeepers are now extracting and selling honey, and moving their hives back towards towns to be cared for during winter.
This season was certainly different from the 2016-17 one. It was also poor, according to the Ministry for Primary Industries' 2017 Apiculture report, but for a different reason.
If this season was too hot, last season was too cold and too wet. The honey harvest was lower than that in the 2011-12 season, despite there being 47 per cent more hives.
With prices still inflated the honey crop fetched $329 million, a 5 per cent increase on the previous year despite less honey having been harvested.
Poor weather takes most of the blame for the poor crop, though overstocking may have been a factor last year as well.
Hive numbers had increased by more than 100,000 on the previous year and iwi and corporates were both trying to cash in. The largest enterprise that season had 60,000 hives.
The biggest concern for the bee industry last season was bee health, with wasps, queen problems and colony death all having an impact.
There had been increased competition for good hive sites and also an increase in hive thefts. New Zealand police are getting more proactive about hive theft, and beekeepers are installing cameras and tracking technology to catch the thieves.
Beekeeping is among the occupations sought after from new immigrants, and companies strive to get and keep their good workers.