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The dark side of NZ’s honey bee

While we’ve been busy fighting wasps, we’ve turned a blind eye to another invader. Farah Hancock looks at the ecological impact of New Zealand’s lucrative honey bee.

Long taken for granted, the hardworking honey bee is experiencing its moment in the sun. Honey prices are rising and with global numbers reported to be in decline and feral populations decimated by Varroa mite, there have been concerted efforts to save them.

For the past few years New Zealanders have been doing just that: planting bee-friendly flowers in gardens, carefully considering pesticide use, taking up beekeeping as a hobby, and killing wasps with impunity to give the bees a chance.

These efforts might be misguided. In New Zealand, honey bees are more livestock than they are wildlife.

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