MPI investigate hundreds of thousands of bees suddenly dead

Alex Mason,
Publish Date
Monday, 4 April 2016, 4:19PM
(File photo).

UPDATED: 6.13PM Madness has entered New Zealand's bee keeping industry, with high honey prices believed to lie behind the suspected poisoning of valuable bee stock.

MPI is investigating after hundreds of thousands of bees died suddenly in a valley in the Far North over Easter.

LISTEN ABOVE: Owner of the dead bees David Yanke talks to Larry Williams 

David Yanke, who produces honey bee queens for New Zealand's apiculture industry, has been bee keeping for four decades - three of those in the Paranui Valley near Taipa.

On a regular visit to one of his yards he was stunned to discover hives half full of dead bees.

"Some of them were still being actively poisoned.

"They were doing that crazy boiling activity, where they just boil out and fall crazily onto the ground unable to fly."

Hundreds of hives were targeted.

Mr Yanke said ridiculous prices for Manuka honey are seeing more and more stories of hives being stolen or destroyed.

He said there are so many bee keepers piling into the industry to chase honey, but with little knowledge or experience in managing bee colonies.

He said it's a recipe for disaster.

And Mr Yanke is at a loss, as to how to stop a gold rush that's turning malicious.

He said people are overcrowding areas with too many bees; not realising this puts stress on the bees, causing them to yield smaller honey crops and impacting bee health.

But Mr Yanke said legislating to restrict movement of bee hives wouldn't help the bidding war for territory.

"It also involves land owners who are free to do whatever they want on their land.

"They're free to invite anyone they want on to their land, and I can't see how that could ever be regulated."

Mr Yanke said big commercial honey producers pay big dollars to place hives on people's properties - and small players in the industry are unable to compete.

The bee keeping veteran is urging those new to the industry not to destroy the goose that's laying the golden eggs.

He's hoping bee keepers can curb this harmful behaviour, before they destroy the hard work that's gone into making Manuka honey as coveted as it is.



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