Bee keepers called on to fill out survey to combat declining bee population

They help produce a third of the food we eat in New Zealand, and now the government wants to keep a close eye on our bee population to ensure the vital work they do to pollinate our food continues into the future.

Bee numbers are falling around the world and New Zealand beekeepers from backyard hobbyists to big industry players are being asked to do their part to make sure that's not happening here. Source: 1 NEWS

With bee numbers in decline around the world, the government is calling on all bee keepers around the country to take an annual survey about the health of their hives, to ensure New Zealand's bee stocks aren't declining.

John Burnett, who has been bee keeping as a job and hobby for over 30 years, says things are a lot harder than they were before

"At the start it was very easy, you just plonked a hive at the bottom of the garden and let them look after themselves," he told 1NEWS.

He says the Varroa Mite invasion changed bee keeping completely and if anything similar was to come to our shores again, it would be disastrous.

Minister of Agriculture's Damien O'Connor is encouraging the country's 8000 hobbyist and professional bee keepers to take the survey.

Bee keepers can receive access to the survey from next month.

"Then we can equip the bee keepers and everyone else to deal with disease and other challenges that they have," Mr O'Connor told 1NEWS.

"There's pressure on the industry both from growth, but also from growing disease pressures, so we've got to be in a better position to help them to manage."

As well as being a $5 billion industry in New Zealand, it's predicted around a third of our food is dependent on bees.

Population loss is an issue overseas, and the government wants to insure it doesn't become an issue here.

"We've had under 10 per cent colony loss, but if you look at other countries in the Northern Hemisphere and the US, they're all around 30 to 40 per cent," CEO of Apiculture NZ Karis Kos said.

Information from the survey will also go into an international database to monitor bee stocks worldwide.

Results are expected to be released in the next few months.