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  • Writer's pictureAimz

Chapter 1: Home to Help

  BUZZIN’ WITH AIMZ

Despite growing up in a beekeeping family, at 16 years-old ‘Aimz’ left the Bay of Plenty for a career as a mechanic, taking her to Western Australia. Twenty years later she is back home though and, with a plot of land and a family of her own, recently found herself hauling honey under the summer sun with her dad. Now, at 37 years-old, the beekeeping bug has bit and Aimz is ‘Home to Help’…

Entering the beekeeping world at 37 has been like a fresh breath of old memories awash in smoke … and stings … and propolis.

The year I was born my father caught a swarm in a box after instruction from a local beekeeper. The beekeeper never did come pick the bees up and, after a few weeks, my father in his curiosity wound some net curtain around his wide brim hat and dared to enter into that one box that would inexplicitly change his life.

‘Aimz’ is back home in the Bay of Plenty and undertaking a new career in the family beekeeping business where she has invited Apiarist’s Advocate readers to follow her journey each month.

I grew up crawling around the extracting room floor (our kitchen, and later a small shed my parents rented from friends), playing with drones, and being carted around the countryside in our station wagon from bee site to bee site. I spent more time exploring farms, forest, hedges and drains than I remember being at home. One of the best sites was at the golf course, there were always plenty of balls to be found in the grass around the hives (must have been one heck of a bogey...) – although there were some pretty nasty Angus bulls that would on occasion charge the bee truck. It was my older brother’s job to open the gate as his long legs could see him out of most trouble! I would dance carefree through swarms and wake some mornings to find nucs placed around our Kent fireplace - my mother is the most nurturing kind and, like the shepherd she would try to save every one.

I was immersed in bees, but kept my distance from the keeping.

I dabbled in refitting frames with wire and foundation and scraping boxes for pocket money. As a young teen I spent a few summer holidays manning the extractor, while my brother uncapped with a hot knife in our now RMP facility.

That’s me! With dad’s first ever honey crop – two drums.

My dad’s business had grown – but so had I, and, meeting the love of my life at 16 I flew the hive. It would be 20 years that the bee blood would lie dormant in my veins.

Though not idle, I qualified as a mechanic when I was 18 and left the same year with my partner (a boilermaker) for five years in Australia. We worked in and around the mines then bought a house in Perth. I got full-time work at a local service bay while he flew in and out to offshore oil rigs and hard to pronounce places full of red iron sand.

After having our first child, a son in 2012, the decision was made to come home. My mother found a property on TradeMe and, after little deliberation, we were the proud owners of a slice of rural paradise without even setting foot there. And what a property... no snakes, lizards, or scorpions in the garden! The house was bare with a mighty breeze that gusted through the joinery as we sat on the floor around a fire in January. I missed the West Australian heat, but we soon made it our home and our three daughters were all born around that roaring fire in the following years.

Last summer – getting stuck in on the blower and harvesting honey in the Bay of Plenty. I survived and will be back for more next season.

Which brings me back to bees…

Stepping in to fill a labour shortage last honey season I donned my suit and gloves and sweated my beehind off running full boxes of mānuka honey to the truck and stacking them four high. I must have manhandled four tonne of honey that one week and the adrenaline from hard work and the enjoyment from working alongside family was catching. Then came the long drives bringing bees home from the honey crops and finally, after a succession of unreliable and incompatible workers, my dad agreed to train me as a beekeeper. I must have broken through his bias of perceived “boys’ jobs” when I proved my physical competence running honey, and I now find myself with my own suit and hive tool as we work our way around his 1000 hives checking stores and wintering down.

Keep a look out here each month to track my story, in my words. This is just the start for this newbee, my fascination grows daily as I endeavour to learn all I can – I’m ‘Buzzin’ with Aimz’. Lucky I have a great teacher, ay Dad…



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