• $401m
    Export Revenue for honey year ending March 2023
  • United States
    Largest importer of NZ honey year ending March 2023
  • 2,780
    Individuals worked in the Apiculture industry across 2021
  • 2830
    Learners enrolled in Beekeeping in 2021


While Aotearoa has native species of bees, they are not considered suitable for producing honey. It is believed that honeybees were probably introduced here in March 1839, when Mary Bumby (sister of a Methodist missionary) brought two hives ashore at the Māngungu Mission Station in Hokianga. The introduced bees flourished in the native bush, and wild colonies multiplied rapidly. By the 1860s, Māori had become the first commercial beekeepers in the country, with the commercial production of honey beginning in the late 1870s after the introduction of the Langstroth hive (a moveable-frame beehive which is still used today). By 2021, an estimated 13% of Aotearoa apiculture businesses were Māori-owned.

In 2021, we counted 2,780 people in the Apiculture industry (also referred to as the beekeeping industry), and in 2019, the number of registered beehives peaked at around 918,000. This number has since been declining, with 2022 having a total of approximately 730,800 registered beehives and around 9,900 registered beekeeping enterprises, producing a total of 22,000 tonnes of honey. Production for the 2022 season increased 7% on the previous year and this was the fifth season in a row that saw production levels above 20,000 tonnes. This has resulted in increasing mānuka stocks, alongside a fall in exports due to COVID-19. There is now a glut of honey, with industry reports suggesting that the total amount of mānuka honey in storage is more than an entire year of production.

Consequently, the number of beehives now outstrips consumer demand and export prices for honey are declining, with the added pressure of pests such as varroa mite, and wasp invasions. Disease and pests are one of the biggest challenges for the industry. Landcare Research estimated that over winter 2021, the colony loss totalled 14%, or approximately 109,800 colonies, with 5% of losses being attributed to varroa mite.

Find out about our work to assess the quality of programmes delivered by providers for this industry here.

2025 Investment Advice

Muka Tangata provides advice to TEC on investment in vocational education to influence funding decisions that considers industry needs, to help match skills and workforce demands with supply.

Learn more


We highlight the current key priorities and opportunities for each industry. These opportunities will be updated on an ongoing basis as our understanding of the industry evolves and deepens.

This is our plan to address the opportunities that arose from our engagement, research and analysis. It includes real actions that we are committed to delivering – these are both industry specific and cross-cutting actions across all industries in the food and fibre sector where common themes emerged.

It includes broader areas or dependencies where external parties will need to provide input into solutions with Muka Tangata support; for example, advocacy, engagement, collaboration, and provision of specific expertise or data. We will work in collaboration with those who will need to take the lead in this area. This section will test potential solutions that we’re working on and seek feedback and input into them.