Love Your Honey - and Your Neighbour
Winter is the quiet season for beekeepers. Two local enthusiasts are using this time for reflection and education, calling for more sustainable beekeeping practices.
Roger Alexander is a familiar face to visitors of the Matakana Village Farmers Market, where he’s been selling his delicious Matakana Honey for the past three years.
“Honey from the Matakana Coast is so special because of our beautiful landscape. The valleys have a perfect mix of manuka, kanuka and rewarewa, giving our honey its excellent taste and health benefits,” says Roger.
Warkworth apiarist Matthew Wech supplies beehives to hobbyists and is passionate about teaching the art of beekeeping. He wants to educate people about a new threat to beekeepers.
“In New Zealand – because of the value of Manuka Honey – we’re starting to see areas with too many bees, and not enough nectar and pollen to go around,” Matthew says.
“Big operators are dumping large numbers of beehives into some areas. They don't consider their neighbours. The hobbyist beekeepers and small operators, that only have a few hives on their lifestyle blocks next door, are being robbed. It impacts the amount of honey they get, as well as the health and future of their bees.”
“The number of hives in the country has tripled within the past ten years, but the actual output of honey only doubled. We've reached a tipping point,” Matthew says.
Roger agrees, saying that like any type of farming, overstocking is an issue with bees.
“You can easily see when a farmer has overstocked a paddock – too many cows and not enough grass. It’s harder to know when there’s too many bees and if they’re starving.”
To stay sustainable, Roger is not planning to expand or go international. “I love selling at the local market and keeping it boutique to the area.”