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19 June 2008
Federated Farmers Bee industry group is planning to embark on a major publicity campaign to make decision-makers and the public aware of just how critical bees are to the agricultural and horticultural sectors and everyone who owns or enjoys a garden.
Speaking at the annual conference of the Bee industry group, chairman John Hartnell said, bees tend to be taken for granted, except by some horticulturalist, fruit growers and small seed producers. He said some people in the agricultural sector are not aware of how easily bees can be harmed.
"Bees are always at risk from chemicals sprayed on trees, crops and pasture where bees are foraging. Bees can even be drowned by some irrigation systems. Farmers need to have a better understanding of the lifecycle and needs of bees and to work more closely with beekeepers.
“Bees are a threatened population, yet research clearly shows that more hives will be required in the future to meet increased demands for food production,” he said.
Mr Hartnell says it is clear to the industry that a major public awareness campaign is needed to ensure that everything is done to create environments where bee populations can thrive and carry out their task of pollinating crops.
Mr Hartnell says that while honey production is very important to the economy, by far the greatest benefit to New Zealand is the value of pollination activities. Without the bee, key industries such as horticulture, small seed and pastoral farming would rapidly decline and food choices, such as fresh vegetables and table fruits would be lost.