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  • Patrick Dawkins

Christmas Promo Winner a Southland Club Good-Sort

CLUB CATCH UP BROUGHT TO YOU BY HIVE WORLD NZ

Every Christmas Apiarist’s Advocate and some of our leading advertisers (including sponsor of this section Hive World NZ) give away a bundle of gifts to one lucky subscriber. In December it turned out the random winner had perhaps earned some beekeeping karma to draw the $300 in value their way. We meet Marj Baker – instrumental in both the Southland Bee Society and another beekeeping group closer to her Winton home, as well as sharing beekeeping experiences through her MBeez Honey Facebook page.

Just six seasons into her hobbyist beekeeping journey, Baker is packing plenty in. Currently the Southland Bee Society treasurer, she became involved with the club almost as soon as she got the first of her now four beehives. However, not satisfied with having to travel the half hour to Invercargill to get a beekeeping-group fix, two years ago she launched a Winton hobbyist group.


“I wanted to improve the beekeeping practices in my own area and I knew there were a whole heap of new hobbyists nearby. So I talked to Andy Booth, who has been beekeeping about 50 years, and got him on board to help,” Baker explains.

The Winton group now includes 21 non-commercial beekeepers who gather regularly to talk beekeeping and share knowledge.

Marj Baker can not only be found at Southland markets selling honey harvested from her four beehives, but at Southland Bee Society gatherings and the Winton hobby beekeeping group she founded two years ago

The now retired wool buying business owner was initially a cautious beekeeper, first being gifted beekeeping equipment by her family as she was showing interest in having a hive, but then taking four months to populate it as she increased her knowledge base.


“We had a girl that worked for us. So, between her and my husband we bought a nuc from Murray Christensen and away I went. I haven’t looked back since. I love it. It’s an amazing hobby, just incredible.”


That passion is evident not only in Baker’s efforts at club level, but through her MBeez Honey Facebook page where a wide range of beekeeping activities are demonstrated to the 100-plus followers and honey customers. Although the four MBeez hives can only nett so much honey, it is enough to service some regular cliental and visits to various markets in the Southland area. Primarily clover honey, it is extracted at Booth’s registered facility.

Marj Baker has only four beehives but plenty of honey to support some supportive local buyers in Southland who lap up the MBeez clover honey.

Of course keeping four hives productive enough to keep the customers’ jars full means being well on top of varroa mites, and so Baker says she plans to use the $100 Christmas giveaway vouchers from each of Ecrotek, NZ Beeswax and Hive World NZ for buying various varroa treatments in the first instance. She plans to trial some organic treatments and you can be sure she will share her experiences with the beekeeping community. That will include the Southland Bee Society, which after a lull of activity has started to pick up again in the last six months and now has about 50 members.

“We are all there to learn together, so anything we don’t know we will find out. To me that will mean better beekeeping throughout the South Island,” Baker says.

In the deep south at least, Baker is doing her part to better that beekeeping and karma appears to have rewarded her, $300 to the better.


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