Brothers Tim and Peter Wood grew up beekeeping with their late father, Colin, and took over the family business, Lindis Honey, in 2012.
With about 5000 hives located across Cromwell, Bannockburn, Clyde, Alexandra, Lindis Pass and the West Coast, they get to indulge their love of working outdoors and having access to locations most people never get to see.
As World Bee Day is celebrated on Friday, they spoke of the job that keeps them and five other beekeepers employed full-time, although work slows down in the winter months.
“We follow the rhythm of the bees,” Tim Wood said.
“They work hard all summer and so do we, then they take winter off.”
Bees are a fascinating insect to work with and a third of our food came from bees, directly or indirectly as pollinators, he said.
“It’s quite rewarding seeing the fruits of your labour, your successful honey, crops and healthy hives.”
The bees not only produce honey but hives were leased to farms and orchards as pollinators for fruit, and for carrots to produce carrot seed.
“Eighty percent of Europe’s carrot seeds come from Tarras,” Tim Wood said.
Apiculture New Zealand said the country had 10,325 registered beekeepers with a total of 760,751 hives. In the last financial year, commercial beekeepers exported 20,500 tonnes of honey, worth $455.5million.
The brothers said varroa mite is a continuing threat to bee colonies, and more so because the varroa mites developed resistance to the synthetic treatments used.
As for the effect of climate changes, consistent rains through summer meant better crops and more pollen for the bees to collect.
“Warmer and wetter are better conditions for beekeeping,” Peter Wood said.