Organics Aotearoa New Zealand (OANZ) is putting a focus on bee-friendly farming, calling for reductions in toxic agrichemical use and increased organic research as Bee Week begins on Monday 4 May.
"Bees would not survive without human support, while a third of all the food we eat depends on bee pollination", said Dr Jon Tanner, OANZ Chief Executive Officer.
"During Bee Week, OANZ will advocate for reductions in toxic agrichemical use and more organic research", Dr Tanner said.
"There is mounting concern at the world's declining bee population, with agrichemical use a leading cause.
"Increasing organic research would allow all farmers to reduce their reliance on harmful agrichemicals.
"Greater research is particularly necessary around varroa, where we do not yet have organic options which can control the early stages of infestation. Beekeepers face having to abandon organic production until effective treatments are found.
"New Zealand produces around 300 tonnes of certified organic honey annually, mostly for international export. Organic bee products typically attract a price premium of around 25%.
"Organic beekeepers are required to locate hives more than five kilometers from intensively farmed properties, and to abide by certifiers' standards for hive management.
"Despite the challenge posed by varroa, organic beekeepers are generally positive about their future. Consumers are demanding the greater traceability which organics provides, and more farms are making the switch to organic production.
"OANZ is pleased to work alongside the National Beekeepers Association, Horticulture New Zealand and Plant and Food Research in coordinating Bee Week", Dr Tanner said.
Three organic case studies are available for download:
Waitaki Honey Company
organic bee products exporter John Hartnell
the New Zealand Beeswax Company
There is also a media backgrounder with information about the themes of Bee Week, and more information is available on the National Beekeepers Association website.