• Patrick Dawkins

The Coromandel Way

Club Catch-Up – Brought to you by HIVE WORLD NZ.

In Thames there is a bee club that reflects the laid-back nature of the Coromandel area from where it draws its members, along with the neighbouring Hauraki Plains. In this month’s Club Catch-Up we learn that while the Thames Bee Club might not share some of the formalities of other beekeeping clubs from around the country, it still manages to share a wealth of knowledge between members and provide a connection to the apiculture industry.

The club does not hold an AGM or appoint officers, instead relying on continued involvement from its approximately 50 members at regular monthly meetings to maintain the cohesion that has seen it survive for about 10 years now.

Jill Pauling acts as spokesperson for the club while also “sending out the emails and keeping everyone interested,” says the keeper of seven beehives whose father also kept bees.

“If we get any bigger we might have to go the more formal route, but at the moment it is fine. I have stated that I am happy to keep people engaged though,” Pauling says.


Three key commercial beekeepers are instrumental to the functioning of the club. Graham Harrison, John Bassett and Mike Green give their time and share a wealth of knowledge with other members.

Bassett’s Kerata Bees business has a small apiary in Thames which the club uses for in-hive demonstrations. It is conveniently located at the Kerata Bees’ extraction facility, over the road from where the club meets at the Bright Smile Gardens in Thames on the last Saturday of the month at 2pm. Meetings usually attract 10 to 20 members.

“We are lucky to get such good support from our commercial members. That provides three guys who we can pick the brains of and work with. They are great and really come into their own,” Pauling says.

Being based between two distinct regions, Coromandel and the Hauraki Plains, makes the Thames club different to most. Members are often are facing differing beekeeping conditions.

“A group of guys will come over from the Coromandel side and talk about what they are doing with their bees, but it might be different to w

Having mentors like commercial beekeeper John Bassett, seen here conducting an assessment of a hive for fellow club members, means a wealth of beekeeping knowledge is imparted at Thames Bee Club’s small monthly gatherings.

hat we are doing on the plains.

“We can have a drought in Hauraki while the Coromandel is getting the easterly storms coming through and be fine. It is an absolute mix, but it is still good to hear what other people are doing.”

The predominant honey varieties differ between the two regions as well, with the Hauraki Plains providing much clover and multifloral honey, whereas the Coromandel has a lot of manuka and pohutukawa.

October and November on the Coromandel peninsular sees manuka flowering, followed by pohutukawa from late November. The past two summers, into autumn, has seen the Hauraki plains hit by drought, meaning an early burn off for clover flowers and challenging beekeeping conditions, Pauling says.

Those dry conditions have led to discussions at club meetings about methods to prevent bees from robbing in the apiaries. Passing on tips and tricks like that are the reason why the club exists, even if it is largely informal. So far, that arrangement is working for members Pauling believes.

“We are taking it month to month, but if we get to a point where someone wants to formalise the club then I am certainly open to saying, ‘step up’,” Pauling says, adding “at the moment everyone seems quite happy with the way it is going.”

Thames Bee Club

Meets last Saturday of the month 2pm, Bright Smile Gardens, Thames.

Email: jill.pauling@fonterra.com Phone: 027 221 7639

0 comments