The Beekeeper's Daughters - Where Art Meets the Hive
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Art and beekeeping are not your typical pairing of passions, but for Chad Tozer the two are inextricably intertwined. Both pursuits blossomed from Chad’s innate creativity to give rise to The Beekeeper’s Daughters – where quirky beekeeping artwork meets unique, flavour-infused bush honey. The Geraldine Bee Club Chairman shares his journey from the fast-paced, corporate environment to the quiet foothills of the Southern Alps.
Art has always been a large part of Tozer’s life.
“My parent’s sent me to art classes at the age of five, which continued through my childhood and teenage years. While studying at the Wellington School of Design I continued my art and even taught to high school students in my spare time,” he says.
With a solid creative foundation, Tozer found success designing a range of innovative building products while working for a firm in Auckland.
“Sometimes it’s the most simple things which have the most success,” he says, describing one product which was well received by his peers in the construction industry.
However, after 10 years of working for large corporate firms in Auckland, Tozer says their family never felt as though they had put roots down in Auckland and that “deep down we knew this wasn’t where we were meant to be”.
That led the father of three to take up a role in Ashburton and relocate with his family to Geraldine, in Canterbury.
“My wife and I wanted to provide our kids with the same rural lifestyle we had when we were young,” he says, referencing his childhood years in Blenheim. The move also marked the beginning of his pursuit into the world of beekeeping.
“I loved the idea of becoming a beekeeper but in Auckland it didn’t feel practical. When we moved to the South Island, I got into hobbyist beekeeping straight away. Something still wasn’t right though. Every time I jumped in the car and drove to my office job in Ashburton, I felt as though I hadn’t escaped the rat race of corporate life.”
So, he knew it was time to make a change.
“I knew it was finally time to do my own thing and take beekeeping from just a hobby to something else, and take back the work-life balance that had been missing all those years.”
He stepped away from his role with the Ashburton based firm, and started The Beekeeper’s Daughters, a place where he could simultaneously channel his love of art and love of bees. Rekindling his passion for art was important for Tozer.
“The art is a way to vent my creative side while linking in with the beekeeping side of things.”
With quirky art pieces such as ‘Make bush honey great again’ or Darth Vader inspecting frames with the caption ‘I am your keeper,’ his pieces are made by the beekeeper, for the beekeeper. When asked about how he creates his art, Tozer explains, “I start by drawing them by hand with an ink pen. Then I digitise them, after which a local printing company prints them onto art paper for me.”
This creative outlet has spilled over to other parts of his business, where he has started his own range of local bush honey. “I love honey,” he says, “I also like trying different types of honey, but one of my favourites is multi-floral, rich bush honey.”
His own bush honey is collected from thick pockets of native bush in the foothills of Geraldine. However, customers can also choose from a ginger infused or a spicy chilli infused honey, or as Tozer puts it, “a Geraldine honey which celebrates local, quirky, fun honey as well as having a laugh.” His honey has won many hearts in the area, with the Geraldine Cheese Company entering it, paired with a brie cheese into SCOFF (South Canterbury Outstanding Food Festival).
As The Beekeeper’s Daughters business began to grow, Tozer became aware of some of the challenges facing new beekeepers wanting to pick up the hobby.
“I know first-hand that beekeeping is expensive and incredibly time consuming,” he says, adding “Whether you have three hives, 300 or 3000, there is a whole list of things which you have to do which takes time.”
So, he saw this as an opportunity to begin a hive sponsorship program, where individuals, schools or corporate groups can sponsor their very own beehive.
“I thought, rather than consumers going straight for honey, what if I could connect them with the bee story so they can become advocates of bees and be educated about their importance.”
Customers are able to engage in beekeeping without having to operate their own hive and as Tozer puts it, his customers can “come along on the journey and earn their honey".
The part time artist and part-time beekeeper’s connection to apiculture goes even further though, as he recently stepped up the become the chairman of the Geraldine Bee Club. He remains humble in his approach to the role.
“The chairman isn’t the one that knows it all, rather the one that facilitates and engages with those who have way more experience than I do,” Tozer says.
With a number of exciting opportunities on the horizon, the future of The Beekeeper’s Daughters is summed up best in the company’s motto: “Its all about bees for the next generation.”