Tim and William Stewart thanks for agreeing to do this interview with me! Beekeeping is a very interesting topic I’m sure that our readers at Apis Cera would like to know more about.
Apis Cera: Can you tell us where you live and how old you are?
Tim: I live in the Horsham Downs area of the Waikato, New Zealand. 33 years old.
William: I live in Hamilton city in a suburb called Chartwell. I am 26 years old.
Apis Cera: How and why did you get started with beekeeping?
Tim: Initially my interest in beekeeping was sparked when the primary school I went to had beehives. Then I had a couple of hives myself during my high school years. I had a bit of a break from keeping bees while I studied at university. When I had fisnished studying I got back into beekeeping. This was initially for another beekeeper and then I went into business with my brother, William.
William: I had returned from overseas travel and helped Tim out often with different aspects of looking after the hives he had at that time. Following this, the opportunity to buy a beekeeping operation arose and I jumped onboard with Tim.
Apis Cera: How many hives do you have currently and how many did you start off with?
Tim & William: We currently have around 1400 hives. We started off with just a handful, which we managed to split and get upto around 100. Then we met a retiring couple who were keen to sell their hives. They had around 650-700, which we bought and have slowly built up to our current number.
Apis Cera: How many bees are in your hives?
Tim & William: That’s a tricky question! Well at this time of the year (honey production time/summer) we aim for maximum population….say an average of around 50,000 would be good.
Apis Cera: What’s your favorite part of beekeeping?
Tim: Favorite: I really enjoy watching the bees change with the seasons. Its amazing watching them go through their cycles. Least favorite: The amount of driving we have to do can be a bit of a drag.
William: Favorite: I like the growth that you can acheive both in hive numbers and in the scope of the business – from producing raw bulk honey; to processing and packing with brand development and selling. I also enjoy the logistics and problem solving. Least Favorite: Like Tim, I dont enjoy the large amount of time spent in vehicles and other the physical tax from heavy lifting.
Apis Cera: Aren’t you afraid of being stung?
Tim: Not afraid, don’t enjoy it though
William: Not at all, I try to avoid them but it’s inevitable.
Apis Cera: Are you witnessing any colony collapse in your area? Does your hives suffer this phenomenon?
Tim & William: Not that we are aware of. We are keeping a watchful eye out for any poor health to our bees at all times.
Apis Cera: What kind of flowers, trees or plants does your environment offer to your lovely bees?
Tim & William: Our bees are kept in environments that offer them a full range of flower types for them to forage on right throughout the season. Spring sees them working on willow, which gives them early nectar and pollen. Other early types include gorse and some early flowering native bush such as Rewarewa, which can also provide surplus honey in a good year. We have some hives which can gather manuka on occasion. But most of our hives are located in areas where they gather pasture honey, flowers such as clover and catsear predominate.
Apis Cera: What’s your personal favorite type of honey?
Tim: I really enjoy Rewarewa, a nice, dark, bush honey.
William: I like Kanuka, a bit more subtle and less sweet than some.
Apis Cera: Where do you see yourself in one year?
Tim: We are hoping to construct a new honey shed for our extraction plant to be in. So that’s pretty exciting. And of course still beekeeping.
William: It would be nice to take on a senior beekeeper in our team to gain outside knowledge and to share some of the hive management roles. I am also looking forward to being involved in the design and installation of a purpose built extraction plant.