Beekeeping is not all sweetness and light, something Jo Grimm knows all too well after some of her hives went up in smoke.
The Otama beekeeper said managing diseases and parasites was a massive part of the job and she was always monitoring her bees’ health.
Earlier this year she discovered some of her hives had American foulbrood disease, which was fatal to bees.
She was forced to burn those hives to stop the spread of the bacteria.
‘‘It took a few weeks to process.’’
Fortunately she had insurance, but it was still a ‘‘major blow’’ for her fledgling business, Humming Valley, which she started with a Waipahi beekeeper she became friends with at a beekeeping course in 2018.
‘‘It was just going to start off as a hobby.’’
However, she soon had too much honey for just her family so she and her friend decided to start selling it together.
‘‘For the last couple of years, we’ve been sold out within half a year.
‘‘I know a lot of people [who], once they’ve tried our honey,. . .don’t want supermarket stuff anymore.’’
She was planning to increase production and start processing the honey herself soon.
Even her sons, William and Jacob, were getting involved.
‘‘It was quite cute when I first took the kids into the hives, because I got wee suits for them [and] they had a perception that the queen would be wearing a crown.’’
While AFB had whittled her 22 hives down to 10, she was looking to bounce back and eventually have as many as 50 hives.
Having bees complemented her farm nicely as they pollinated the plants on the property.
‘‘Everything we plant now, we think of the bees.’’