Poor weather conditions over the 2016/17 honey harvest season were some of the most challenging experienced by New Zealand beekeepers in the last five years, resulting in one of the lowest honey crops since the 2011/12 season.

“We are not surprised to see the lower volumes of 14,855 tonnes of honey for the 2016/17 season as reported in the Ministry for Primary Industries 2017 Apiculture Monitoring Programme released today,” says Karin Kos, Chief Executive of Apiculture New Zealand.

“While we have had a better season this year, variable weather conditions over the last few months have interrupted the honey flow and as a result we are looking at an average to slightly below average 2017/18 season.”

The Ministry’s report highlighted continued growth in the total number of hives and registered beekeepers as at June 2017.

“We’ve seen registered hive numbers grow again this year with total registered hive numbers at 887,510 by 28 February 2018, up 11 per cent on the previous year,” says Ms Kos.

There had been some speculation that hive numbers would reached one million by the end of 2017 but the mix of the poor weather, the uncertainty around the scope and timing of MPI’s manuka honey definition, and a plateauing of honey prices paid to beekeepers for the 2016/17 year, has likely contributed to a softening in this growth.

Despite lower volumes of New Zealand exports of honey in the year to 30 June 2017 (at 8450 tonnes), export revenue was up by 5 per cent on the previous year, to $329 million.

“It’s good to see ongoing strong demand and premium pricing for New Zealand honey overseas with average export prices increasing again in the year to June 2017, by 9 per cent.

“Our international customers and markets understand the value and quality of New Zealand’s unique range of honeys and we need to continue to build on our New Zealand story, extending it to all our native honeys,” says Ms Kos.