Rising to the Challenge of a Tricky Summer

If your summer holidays were disrupted by unpredictable weather this year then spare a thought for the bees. Although the season got off to a cracking start, the wind and rain just kept coming back. And that’s not much fun when you’re as small as a bee. Luckily, we have a great team that always manages to deal with sticky situations.

From a bee’s point of view, this summer was a tricky one. Not only was there limited  ‘fly time,’ but flowering was a problem too. Unsettled conditions meant that many of our bees’ favourite floral sources didn’t flower at the right time or hardly flowered at all. 

While Kāmahi is usually an abundant source of nectar, even that harvest was very light this year. Mānuka was also affected by bad weather around Christmas time. All of these things combined make life pretty difficult if you’re a hungry bee. 

Thank goodness our clever little creatures managed to find plenty of Beech Honeydew to make up for the lack of flowers. For some reason, there was an abundance of Beech Honeydew this season, and it kept flowing for much longer than usual. 

Of course, tricky times for bees means lots of work for beekeepers. The patchy flowering made it difficult to predict where our bees would be happiest. Not only that, flooding caused some of our tracks to become impassable, leaving some hives stranded. The downside of keeping bees on such remote sites is that those wild places can be very hard to access when the weather turns. 

Our team had one particularly troublesome night when a fallen tree had blocked off one of the access roads, deep into the Marlborough Sounds. With the truck loaded up with hives, we had to make a snap decision to offload somewhere else. The decision to backtrack made for a much longer journey and a long, wet night for all concerned.

Seasons like 2022 remind us how lucky we are to have such fantastic people. Our awesome team really rose to the occasion, facing every challenge with good humour and the determination to get stuck in and get the work done. 

Once again our little team gave their all, and not just out in the field. Murray had a full crew of new people in the extraction shed this summer, so there was a lot of learning going on there. The new crew did a stellar job of extraction, getting up to speed quickly after a busy start. We are so thankful for everyone’s willingness to adapt to changing hours and deal with any issues that pop up.

We also have a couple of changes in our beekeeping team this season, with two of our beekeepers going on to new adventures. It’s always hard to see people move on, but the interviews are done and we’re very excited to be welcoming three new beekeepers onboard over the next few months. We are sure the bees will love them.

In a tough season, getting feedback from our lovely customers is more important than ever. It always gives everyone such a boost. We really appreciate it when customers leave a review or take the time to email and tell us about how much they love their honey, or about the great service they’ve received. It makes our day to be able to share these positive messages with our team. 

Autumn is always so beautiful in Nelson. It’s a special time of the year for us, seeing all the golden pots of honey in the warehouse, and knowing that we’ve done a great job looking after our bees for another year. It’s time now to start the work of getting the hives settled in for winter, making sure they have everything they need to keep safe from predators, disease and the cold. 

It’s funny, but the trickier the season the more determined we are to keep our bees safe and happy. For us, keeping bees is never just about honey production. Our bees are part of our family. They are the little things that count!

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