Why Waiheke Island is a great place to be a beeby Ken Downie
Photography by Ken Downie.
The sweet side of Waiheke.
He describes beekeeping as somewhere between a science and a craft. “I must have read about 70 books on the subject, watched a lot of YouTube videos, and even got myself a couple of jobs working for other beekeepers, to test myself and find out whether or not I liked bees,” he says.
Evatt’s Waiheke Honey Co now produces an array of native-bush honeys, including pōhūtukawa and mānuka, as well as a range of lip balms and beeswax candles. It’s a family business, with wife Sheena – known, of course, as “Queen Bee” – often labelling the honey jars, and sons Leo and Lex helping out in the school holidays.
The island’s bountiful landscapes produce a wide variety of pollens and nectars that provide foraging bees with a balanced diet. Most of the local vineyards don’t use insecticides, and when birds peck at the ripe grapes, bees are attracted to the juice that drips onto the grassland flowers beneath the vines. That leads to “a hint of cabernet” in the floral, golden-syrup flavour of the multiflora honeys, reckons Evatt, who affectionately refers to his bees as “our girls”. Waiheke Island, he says “is a great place to be a bee”.
This article was first published in the March 2019 issue of North & South.
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