Honey is a popular food in New Zealand. Each person eats, on the average, nearly 5 lb a year. The annual average production is about 6,000 tons. Most of this is eaten locally, but about a sixth is exported. The thriving local and export trades have grown and been maintained with the help of a modern industrial organisation and of regulations governing disease control and the grading of honey to strict standards. Beeswax is also a valuable product. 210,315 lb was produced in the year ended 31 May 1964.
Registrations under the Apiaries Act show that at May 1963 there were 4,701 beekeepers with a total of 13,071 apiaries and 183,875 established hives. Many beekeepers owned fewer than 30 hives but about 250 were full-time commercial beekeepers having an average of 350 hives. Fifty-eight per cent of the hives and 57 per cent of the apiaries were in the North Island. The establishment cost of the industry is estimated at about £1,250,000.