A national organisation is agitating for a census to keep track of the country's smallest earners.
Bees, which pollinate a third of everything we eat, contribute about $5 billion to New Zealand's economy each year.
National Beekeepers' Association president Barry Foster says a bee census in New Zealand would help keep a tab on how many hives are lost each year, and identify any causes of death.
New Zealand has escaped the bee colony losses plaguing North America and Europe, where about 30% of hives are lost each year. Foster says the idea of the annual survey was talked about at a select committee meeting, focusing on how to protect the pollinators.
He says a question about hive losses could be tacked on to the end of a compulsory disease survey beekeepers already fill out each year.
Estimates show that before the deadly varroa mite was introduced to New Zealand in the last decade, beekeepers lost around 5-10% of their hives over winter.
Foster says this has skyrocketed to about 20%. He says the chances New Zealand will experience similar hive losses to Europe and America are high. "Particularly if we get more exotic pests into New Zealand.
"And also if we do nothing about mitigating some of the stressors that are there now."
The best way to prevent similar losses was to plant bee-friendly food, like gorse, which contains vital proteins and minerals essential to the health of bees.
"It's really a case of fixing the patient at the top of the cliff rather than at the bottom."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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