South Canterbury beekeepers have faced a challenging summer with drought and the varroa mite impacting hives.
The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) released its Bee Colony Loss Survey report for 2017 on March 16, which sampled 30 per cent of New Zealand beekeepers to determine the rate of hive loss and the main reasons for it.
MPI aquatic and environment health manager Dr. Michael Taylor said a severe drought for the middle of the South Island last year was the leading contributor to the jump in colony loss.
The drought's main impact was causing nectar and pollen sources to deplete, leading to bees dying from starvation, Taylor said.
For the middle of the South Island, encompassing Canterbury and the West Coast, the loss was 11.4 per cent compared to 7.2 per cent in 2016.
Pleasant Point Apiaries beekeeper Paul Bartrum said, however, the varroa mite - a parasite that attaches to bees and sucks fat from them - has been the main killer of his South Canterbury hives because the mites are gaining a resistance to treatments.