Southern Sun Queen Bees

We're taking orders for naturally mated spring queens. Early orders secures early delivery!

We’re keen to get our order books filled so please contact us with your requirements for Spring 2021.


Our prices are competitive and we offer volume discounts. Please contact us

A little history

Southern Sun Queen Bees was established in the Horowhenua Region over 20 years ago.

Southern Sun Queen Bees is a small business with big ideas. We have a diverse client base to whom we supply mated Italian queens every season.

We’re not just for the big commercial apiaries but are also happy to help out smaller scale beekeepers with their requeening and often provide advice.

Over time the business has moved from a wide based company providing pollination services as far away as the Bay of Plenty, honey production, and queen bee production for local consumers as well as for export to Canada. In more recent times, the business has focussed largely on queen production and trying to meet the New Zealand demand for quality Italian mated queens.

Where we’re located

Our base is in beautiful Manakau, Horowhenua, which has a benign micro-climate with plentiful rainfall that makes it an important horticultural hinterland for Wellington and surrounds. The region is bordered by the Tararua Ranges and warm sunny coastal plains.

How we work

Southern Sun Queen Bees has no minimum order amount and no maximum (with enough notice!). We believe that our bees are fairly priced and by publishing our prices we remain transparent. Our price is the same regardless of quantity whether the order is for 1 or 1000. The only difference is that the courier price will be higher per queen for smaller orders.

We have proven experience in producing quality Italian queens and we understand the requirements of beekeepers, whether they are large scale commercial or small scale hobbyists.

Southern Sun Queen Bees takes orders pre-season for over-wintered queens, as well as in-season sales of mated queens, virgin queens, queen cells and nucleus hives.

About our bees

We believe it is essential to have hives with large numbers of bees for maximum honey crop returns and so we consider this to be the most important characteristic of our bees.

Our breeder queens are selected for brood and honey production.

While no one has yet developed a varroa resistant bee, degrees of hygienic behaviour can be achieved. We are improving our breeder selection processes to strengthen the hygienic behaviour of our bees.

Aggressive bees do not produce more honey and we focus on breeding bees that have a mild temperament and are easy to handle.

Italian bees can range in colour from golden yellow to brown.

Occasionally Italian bees can also have a black tip or light striping of the abdomen. Colour is the least important selection criteria so there will be variations in our queens.

Gary Milne

Owner & Operator

Gary Milne

After nearly 30 years of beekeeping and 20 years of queen breeding and rearing, I am delighted to be still learning about these amazing creatures.

While I started out in the construction industry, my fascination with bees has been an all-consuming passion.

Over the years I have been involved in honey production (including the days when Manuka honey was used as feed honey for winter hives because there was no market demand), larger scale crop and orchard pollination, and queen rearing for both the local and the Canadian market.

It gives me great pleasure to provide quality Italian queens to the New Zealand bee industry.

I have extensive business management experience and I am well qualified to provide technical, management and strategic advice to your beekeeping business.

Penny Kerr-Hislop

Instrumental Insemination Specialist

Penny Kerr-Hislop

Penny works alongside Gary at Southern Sun Queen Bees. With a background in teaching and nothing to do at all with science she now runs the Instrumental Insemination lab.

She attended courses with Mike the Beeman in the UK and more recently with Sue Cobey in Seattle. It has taken many hours of patience, committment and perseverence to master both the collection of semen from the drones and the insemination of the queens. There have been times when it seemed impossible. For those moments Gary posted a quote on the shed wall in front of her.

Everything that is not forbidden by laws of nature is achievable, given the right knowledge.