The bee industry is facing major threats, the National Bee Keepers Association says.
President Barry Foster said viruses, pathogens, pesticides and a decline in nutritional sources were hitting the bee population as well as the varroa mite. "On one hand bees need good quality pollen to build up their fat reserves and they also need it for their immune system. However, when you get a combination of factors like a degraded environment, pathogens and effects from pesticides you can get a serious situation."
The association is planning to lobby the Government and other industry stakeholders to set up research programmes, he said.
"We don't need to reinvent the wheel, there has been a lot of research done overseas but there are good possibilities if we had sufficient funds, we could collaborate a bit more and do some of our own in-house Kiwi stuff. People say it's just a bee problem but actually it's a food problem - our food."
A lack of knowledge, lack of political will and lack of money had prevented any action being taken, Mr Foster said.
It's estimated there are more than 400,000 hives throughout the country, and the pollination of crops and clover is worth about $5 billion to the economy each year. Bees are a vital link in the food chain.
"If our bees are compromised to a great extent like other countries we haven't got any fall-back position. If we lose our bees we are buggered and this situation is not getting taken seriously enough yet."
Beekeepers association chief executive officer Daniel Paul said the Government had a critical role to play. "You know we pollinate a lot of kiwifruit, a lot of apples and a lot of clover so it's not just the Government that needs to be thinking about this, it is other players. We are hoping to get everyone around a table and start talking co-operatively about how we can pool our resources."
Tauranga beekeeper Dennis Crowley said it's a constant battle against the varroa mite and finding sufficient food sources as the Bay of Plenty is agriculturally developed out. He welcomes research initiatives.
Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy said he had not received correspondence from the beekeepers association, but he would carefully consider any proposal. Read