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Selling a hive protocol

Here are some of the rules concerning the transfer and selling of hives:

1. When a hive is transferred from one beekeeper to another it is a requirement upon the seller to guarantee that the hive is free of any diseases and other pathogens as well as unwelcome insects such as varroa, etc.

This requirement is written into law.

2. The seller must ensure that the buyer has registered the site upon which the hive will be placed and that the site meets any local requirements and by-laws.

3. If the buyer is a new beekeeper then the seller must furnish the buyer with a form so that the site can be registered with the authorities. Very often the seller will assist the buyer to fill out the form. This is because a requirement on the form is that the coordinate map reference using the NZ 260 maps must be given and it is most likely that the new beekeeper will be totally unfamiliar with this.

Registration is free but it is nonetheless a lawful requirement.

4. When a seller transfers a hive to a new beekeeper then the seller will also give support for a minimum period of (usually) six months so that the health and well being of the hive can be periodically checked and maintained in the new condition. Working with the buyer, many skills can be transferred to the buyer so he/she can maintain the hive without further assistance. Telephone and email support is also usually offered.

5. Normally, the seller will advise upon the best place to site a new hive. This is typically in a position so that morning rising sun will be on to the front of the hive. The placement should also be free of cold wind, dampness and other livestock and threats to the hive. A hive strap is often needed, particularly if the area suffers from seismic activity such as is the case in most of Christchurch.

6. The new beekeeper must be educated with some of the facts concerning bee colonies to ensure that the novice is not placed in any danger. Bees can be aggressive and can inject a toxin via a stinger at the bees rear end. Some people react badly to this toxin to the point that breathing becomes impossible and in some cases death may ensue. Some others suffer huge swelling that can be dangerous to health.

It is therefore imperative to wear a protective suit with a veil and suitable gloves.

7. Members of the new beekeepers family and friends must be told of any dangers that may occur when working around bees. This particularly applies to children and family pets. Bee venom is highly toxic to dogs

Derek T Skinner

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Cost of a hive

The cost of buying new woodwork for a basic 4 box hive would be about $160, this does not include nails and paint. However buying a second hand hive together with all the bees and food stores, you would generally expect to pay between $80 to $140 depending on the condition of the woodware, bee population and food stores. The Club would endeavour to have an experienced member check the hive with you, to see that it is disease free. You could expect to pay more if there is a honey crop on the hive. A box full of honey would contain about 20 kg of honey, which is considerable value in itself and would offset the initial cost. Other items required are overalls, hat, veil, gloves, smoker and hive tool; again these items are cheaper if bought second hand.

A properly run hive in the town are should yield between 50-60 kg (some will produce 100 kg) of honey per season. Hives in the rural areas are generally more dependant on the seasonal variations.

It would pay to do a little research by accessing the books available at the public library or the Club library, but remember that most books are written with respect to the Northern Hemisphere.

More information on beekeeping available

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New Zealand bee resources

Here are links to organizations in Christchurch and New Zealand who can help you with beekeeping.

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Legal requirements

In New Zealand, all beekeepers and the location of their hives must be registered in accordance with the  Biosecurity (National American Foulbrood Pest Management Strategy) Order 1998.   A national register of beekeepers  is maintained by AsureQuality, a government owned commercial company –   The Apiary Register is part of New Zealand’s strategy to eliminate American Foul Brood (AFB) in managed bee colonies.  There is no cost to register hives, but an AFB Biosecurity Levy based on the number of apiaries and hives held by the beekeeper must be paid each year.  In addition, each beekeeper must complete an Annual Disease Return (ADR).  A separate annual Certificate of Inspection (COI) showing that each hive was inspected for AFB by an approved person must also be completed and returned.  See for further details.

To register as a beekeeper, register an apiary or change your details on the Apiary Register, please contact the Apiary Registrar

Before acquiring a hive, please give some thought as to where on you are going to place it. Bees and people have existed side-by-side for thousands of years and our Club has many members who keep a hive or two at home in their back garden.  Some district councils in New Zealand have bylaws that prohibit urban beekeeping or require urban beekeepers to apply for a council permit before they acquire hives.  We are fortunate that neither Christchurch City Council, Selwyn District Council nor Waimakariri District Council have specific bylaws that prohibit or control urban beekeeping in this way.  However, your local council may take action if complaints of nuisance are made by neighbours regarding bees.  This action might include asking the beekeeper to:

  • erect a high fence so that that the bees are forced to fly upwards when they leave the garden
  • move the hive to a different part of the section
  • remove the hive to another location completely

Many of our members report that their neighbours had no idea that they kept bees at home until they presented them with a jar of honey.  Bees are a tremendous asset to any neighbourhood, but we do ask members to be responsible and consider their neighbours if they intend to keep bees on a residential section.  If you have any doubts about whether your garden is a suitable location for bees, contact the Club and ask for advice.  Better still, join us: our wealth of experience and expertise means that new beekeepers will receive lots of encouragement, advice and support.

The Christchurch Hobbyist Beekeeper’s Club also encourages its members to complete an AFB recognition training course.  Beekeepers who successfully complete the course and pass the qualifying exam are eligible to enter into a Disease Elimination Conformity Agreement – known as a DECA.  The DECA is an agreement between the beekeeper and the Management Agency and sets out the standards and practices that the beekeeper will follow and maintain.  While not a legal requirement, holding a DECA is clear sign that you are a responsible and well-informed beekeeper.

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