One lucky beekeeper scooped Apiarist’s Advocate’s ‘Beekeeper’s Bounty’ in December, scoring hundreds of dollars in beekeeping equipment, honey and diagnostic testing, and more to sweeten their Christmas. It’s all heading to Cambridge, to assist a beekeeping business with a difference – specialising in beeswax products.
Alexandru Halasz has been beekeeping most of his life, starting in his native Romania, and then landing in New Zealand in 2017 to take up with Comvita. Now, six years on, he has progressed to a team leader position, while also launching his own business in April last year.
Exelle Bees is the brainchild of Halasz and his Kiwi partner Danielle Ratcliffe. He and his hives supply the beeswax, and she adds the value to it, converting it into a range of health and beauty products.
“We started with candles, face cream and lip balms, after that we have ended up making food wraps and now also kawakawa balm based off beeswax. We started selling them and at that point, over winter, I had eight hives,” Halasz explains.
He now also has mating units and is producing mated queen bees from their Cambridge base, meaning the haul of prizes won will find plenty of use. Some of Apiarist’s Advocate’s leading advertisers put up a suite of gifts in December, from vouchers at Hill Laboratories, Ecrotek Beekeeping Supplies and New Zealand Beeswax, to Foster Tests for AFB at dnature Diagnostics and Research, merchandise from Crystech NZ and Manuka Orchard, plus queen bees from Pyramid Apiaries. The bounty was won after commenting on an Apiarist’s Advocate Instagram post.
With their business still small, but growing, Halasz says the prize pack will help out in many ways. Being able to buy some new equipment from the major suppliers will be particularly useful and Halasz says he finds the relative uniformity of New Zealand beekeeping equipment a real positive, whereas in Romania the hive components often vary in shape and size between beekeepers.
It’s far from the only difference in beekeeping between the two countries on opposite sides of globe, but despite that the Romanian has clearly found a niche in New Zealand apiculture. He grew up working hives with his grandfather, so always knew how to handle a hive tool. For years before he came out to New Zealand, Halasz even owned up to 70 beehives of his own.
“In Romania beekeeping is a secondary income for families. There are many beekeepers, but not many hives per beekeeper, perhaps 40 to 50,” he explains.
For about seven months of the year it is too cold to work hives, so the longer beekeeping season in New Zealand is much more appealing.
Running a business alongside full-time work as a beekeeper means evenings and weekends in his own hives. So far it is paying off, as they are selling more and more of their beeswax products online and at various weekend markets around the Waikato.
“We are definitely enjoying it and each month it gets better because we have more customers,” Halasz says, adding “it’s definitely been a positive for us”.
Editors note: Thanks to all our wonderful advertisers who supplied gifts for the ‘Beekeepers Bounty’ won by Alexandru: Hill Labs, Ecrotek Beekeeping Supplies, New Zealand Beeswax, dnature Diagnostics and Research, Mānuka Orchard and Crystech.