Pollinator safety

Protecting healthy bee populations ensures productive agriculture.

Bees are extremely good pollinators of crops and contribute substantially to New Zealand’s multi-billion dollar agricultural economy.

Pollination is essential for plants to produce fruits and seeds and to assist with nitrogen regeneration in clover pastures.

New Zealand’s bee industry

Beehives and beekeepers numbers are steadily climbing. Registered beehives in New Zealand total around 880,000. They’ve nearly doubled in six years.

Honey bee losses are low on an international scale. The fourth Colony Loss and Survival Survey from the Ministry for Primary Industries shows that overall losses averaged 10.2 percent. Up slightly from the previous year, which averaged 9.84 percent.

MEDIA RELEASE: Survey shows NZ bee loss is low

Challenges to bee health

In 2018, queen problems, suspected varroa mite, starvation and wasps were the main contributing factors to honey bee losses – which were also the main factors in previous years.

Ensuring pest control products don’t harm bees

Sprayers – read the label

Before spraying, read the product label to see if it includes statements about bees. For example, the product should not be sprayed on crops in flower when bees are foraging.

Bee responsible awareness campaigns

A campaign for aerial and ground sprayers on keeping bees safe by using agrichemicals responsibly was launched by Agcarm with NZ Aviation in Agriculture and Rural Contractors to coincide with Bee Aware month in September 2017.

Poster - protecting bees from unintended exposure to agrichemicals.

Agcarm and Apiculture New Zealand prepared simple rules for farmers and beekeepers to ensure the coexistence of agriculture and bees:

Seed treatments

Seed treatments allow farmers to grow crops tailored to cope with disease, insects and weeds, thereby increasing productivity of their land. Seed treatments help manage diseases and insect pests from sowing until the crop is established, reducing the need for spraying.

Agcarm and the New Zealand Grain and Seed Trade Association (NZGSTA) have produced best practice guides promoting the safe handling and management of treated seed, for the benefit of safety to people, insects, animals and the environment.

Best practice guide for seed treaters

The Guide to Seed Treatment Stewardship helps seed treaters and seed companies to manage and handle treated seed according to regulations and best practice. It combines seed treatment research and safety information from universities, seed companies, international seed associations and others.

In addition to offering safety advice for people handling treated seed, the guide includes techniques for mitigating risks to pollinators, animals, and waterways, including measures to minimise dust and pesticide drift, and emphasises the importance of the correct use of planter technology.

Guide to Seed Treatment Stewardship

Best practice guide for farmers

A seed treatment guide has been produced for farmers who have purchased treated seed and are looking for best practice information about planting, handling, and disposal of any surplus seed.

Stewardship guide: Handling and planting treated seed