DOC is concerned about the risks to beekeeping sustainability in New Zealand. We are taking the lead by creating a sustainable model for beekeeping – one based on conservation.

Huge increase in demand

There is unprecedented demand from beekeepers wanting to place hives on public conservation land. Demand exceeds supply, particularly for mānuka honey production.

DOC recognises the value of honey to the New Zealand economy, and the potential benefit of using public conservation land as a resource. It is important DOC manages any risks this presents to conservation, while also achieving market returns from this commercial use of public land.

DOC has integrated science into the beehive allocation work. See Honeybees on public conservation lands report (PDF, 316K) which was commissioned to understand the impact of honeybees on native species.

Honeybees compete with native species

Honeybee approaching a white rata.
Honeybee approaching a white rata
Image: Jeremy Rolfe | DOC

Research shows honeybees, an introduced species, may compete with some native species for food as they forage nectar and pollen from many of the same flowers as native birds, bats, geckos and insects.

They also increase pollination of some weeds and alter pollination processes in some native plants.

There is a risk of spreading pests or diseases from beekeeping on public conservation land.

Working with iwi

DOC engages with iwi as our Treaty partners on conservation issues – including beekeeping.

Mānuka plantations

DOC has assessed the potential of mānuka plantations for ecological restoration, carbons equestration and revenue on conservation land. There are concerns about the risk of hybridised mānuka on the natural diversity of mānuka species.

Until further research is carried out, planting will only be considered where local seed can be sourced.

Working with others

DOC’s priority is protecting natural values. We want to support planning around beekeeping sustainability in New Zealand. We work with Apiculture New Zealand to make sure our processes are well connected with the industry, and beekeepers are kept informed.

We are part of a multi-agency group, facilitated by the Ministry of Primary Industries, looking at mānuka and beekeeping issues to ensure a joined-up government approach.

Beekeeping on public conservation land

DOC's process for how beekeepers can put beehives on public conservation land

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