Big learnings gained by Levin beekeepers

Coming out of Bee Aware Month, apiarists throughout the country have been made aware of the responsibilities of being a good beekeeper. It has also shown the importance of sharing knowledge and raising public awareness, if the sector is to continue to flourish.

American Foulbrood, the Varroa mite and tutin contamination are the kinds of buzzwords you don’t want hanging around your hives — but by putting in place good beekeeping practice, you can maximise your bees’ health and get the most out of nature’s most important pollinators.

Gavin Gardner has been a Farmlands shareholder for over 10 years and an amateur beekeeper for about that long too.

“Beekeeping has been one of the biggest learnings for me in the last 50 years of my life. Growing up in Whanganui we were always getting our hands on wild honey when we went out hunting, so I’d always had an interest in bees. When we bought our property in Levin, the previous owner who’d had bees himself offered to leave his gear behind and I said yes, I’ll take it!” From this point on, Gavin has become a champion for the humble honeybee and beekeeping in general.

“I helped set-up the Otaki Buzz Club five years ago. It was an off-shoot of the Wellington Bee Club and now has over 100 financial members.”
One of the best things about these groups is being able to try the beekeeping experience before you buy, says Gavin.

“Most of these clubs have a learning exercise once or twice a year. You’ll pay a few dollars but you’ll go around hives and get a feel for it before you commit.”

Gavin has been ably supported in his beekeeping endeavours by Andrew Burns, from Farmlands Levin. Andrew has worked for Farmlands for 19 years and as an in-store beekeeping specialist he is ready to offer support and advice to hobbyists and commercial beekeepers alike.

“I think what shareholders like is having a point of contact at a store where they can easily get everything they need. We’re the go-to place because we’ve got so much product here, from ready-to-go beehives to overalls and gloves. If it’s not on the shelf, we’ll source it,” says Andrew.

Gavin remarks, “When I moved to Levin I had to shop somewhere, so I went to Farmlands. As a lifestyle property owner, it was great because the staff are very congenial to all our farming needs.

I find it a pleasure to support Andrew in his work, sharing the knowledge I’ve  ained, as Andrew does with me.”

Farmlands has 33 specialist beekeeping branches across the country, each with their own beekeeping champion.

See www.farmlands.co.nz/beekeeping for advice and products to keep your hobby or business buzzing.