Apiary Risks

Apiary Risks

The New Zealand apiculture industry is currently experiencing significant growth. With this growth however comes exposure to new risks. 

At FMG we see claims ranging from damage to hives done by malicious acts, theft, flood or fire, through to large complex claims involving honey extraction facilities. To help manage these risks, we’ve developed the FMG Apiary Risk Advice Guide, which can be downloaded here.

Apiary site

The main areas to pay attention to are:

  • Positioning of apiaries – away from houses and checking with the land owners
  • Access to water – if no natural water source is within 500 meters of the hives an artificial source should be placed within 200 metres of the apiary
  • Movement of apiaries – contacting landowners prior to delivery, providing them with your contact details and removing any debris from the site.

Vehicle risks

Many hive sites are remote and can be difficult to get to. It’s in these situations when many of our clients experience a vehicle accident. 65% of apiarist ute and truck losses occur off-road. So to avoid an accident we recommend:

  • contact the landowner or manager (if this isn’t you) and ask about site access, track condition and safety prior to visiting the site
  • drive to the conditions of the road and track

Fire risk management

The risk of fire damage increases with the use of smokers. To reduce the risk it is important to take extra care particularly in windy or dry conditions, keep the smoker full of fuel to avoid the smoker spitting or embers escaping and causing a fire.  Always adhere to any fire, and follow requirements under the fire permit.


Apiaries can pose a potential health & safety risk to your employees, on-farm workers and the public in general. Suitable signage should be displayed to warn those in the area of their presence and any hazards they pose.

Environmental protection 

Soil borne fungi, weeds and disease can be spread by vehicles. To help prevent the spread of weed seeds and disease, where possible avoid driving in areas where the soil is wet and sticky and stay on designated roads and tracks. 


Legal requirements


The Biosecurity (National American Foulbrood Pest Management Plan) Order 1998 is one of the sets of rules governing the bee keeping industry under the Biosecurity Act 1993. To find out more download a copy of our Apiary Risk Advice Guide.

Health and safety

Under the new Health and Safety legislation bee-keeping is classified as a high-risk industry. This means that you may be required by law to appoint health and safety representatives no matter what the size of your operation is.


35% of our apiary claims involve criminal activity so it’s important to be vigilant.  If possible

  • avoid positioning apiaries visible to the public,
  • display warning signs stating that the area or hives are being monitored
  • consider installing security monitoring devices such as surveillance cameras, location and movement sensors or GPS trackers, 
  • report any suspicious behaviour and thefts to the police.

In conjunction with the NZ Police and Federated Farmers FMG has developed a Rural Crime Prevention Advice Guide that outlines tips to help keep your family, property and assets safe. You can download a copy here.


Storage & extraction facilities

Buildings & appliances 

The heating process needed for honey extraction has a very real fire risk. The honey itself is flammable and the method used to heat the honey varies wildly.  An overworked domestic heater or switchboard can cause damage costing hundreds of thousands of dollars – in fact one fire claim accounts for 80% of FMG’s honey losses.