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  • Writer's picturePatrick Dawkins

Wellington Beekeepers Pay Homage to Frank Lindsay

Stories of decades of dedication to beekeeping, wise counsel, and the odd beekeeping-quip marked an evening of much enjoyment for the Wellington Beekeepers Association (WBA) recently when they recognised life member Frank Lindsay’s far-reaching contributions.

Frank Lindsay is all smiles (and perhaps some blushes too) as he passes through a guard of honour to the Johnsonville Community Hall for a Wellington Beekeepers Association meeting to recognise his New Zealand Order of Merit honour. Photo: Janine Davie.

The Wellington beekeeper’s 50-plus years of constant dedication to beekeeping were recognised in the 2024 New Year Honours List with a New Zealand Order of Merit, and the WBA thought it only fitting to hold a club get-together where stories of Lindsay’s exploits could be shared.

“It’s been fun, and beekeeping is fun,” the man of the hour surmised as he acknowledged those honouring him at the Johnsonville Community Centre.

Around 60 people from the WBA, as well as the Southern North Island Beekeeping Group (SNIBG), both of which Lindsay is a life member of, were in attendance. Also there to recognise Lindsay’s efforts was Karin Kos, chief executive of Apiculture New Zealand (ApiNZ), another organisation to which Lindsay holds a life membership through his work with its predecessor, the National Beekeepers’ Association.

“You just keep learning,” the Wellington apiarist said of the craft which he first practiced with a small number of hives 57 years ago, before going commercial at age 48. Now in his 70s, Lindsay is back to a more manageable holding of hives, but continues to be heavily involved in WBA and SNIBG activities.

He and wife Mary-Ann Lindsay were welcomed to the event with a hearty round of applause as they entered the building through a guard of honour of hive-tools, held aloft by fellow club members.

Mary-Ann’s support of her husband and the beekeeping groups was also acknowledged with the WBA presenting her a bouquet of flowers which was met with the most fitting of responses for a beekeeper when she declared “they probably should have stayed in the garden”.

Frank and Mary-Ann Lindsay cut into an appropriately themed cake with an appropriately themed implement to continue celebrations at the Wellington Beekeepers Association. Photo: Janine Davie.

That presentation, and cutting of beehive-themed cake, was preceded by a range of speakers, attesting to how the New Year’s Honour was fitting. WBA president Tricia Laing praised Lindsay for being “the embodiment of a beekeeper who thinks global, but who acts local”.

Despite being aware of Lindsay’s wide-ranging dedication to beekeeping, Laing said she still found herself impressed when his many contributions were outlined in a long-list in the ONZM recommendation. From assisting research, to industry advocacy, to mentoring fellow beekeepers and many contributions in between, his honour was declared well and truly earned and overdue.

“Frank’s contribution to our members is more than just how to practice beekeeping and apiculture, but to understand the bees and the world we live in,” Laing said.

“We see you as our mentor, but you have taught us not to follow blindly, but to be observant to our bees and be guided by them,” she told Lindsay.

Kos says when she first came into her role Lindsay was described as a “beekeeping guru” and “the fount of all beekeeping knowledge”, “he proved to be all that”, she declared. Kos praised his years of contributions to the New Zealand Bee Keeper Journal, saying his About the Apiary articles are still requested by beekeepers.

“This may also be an award for one person, but your sidekick Mary-Ann should be acknowledged too. She is pretty awesome,” Kos said.

Auckland Beekeepers Club’s Carol Downer sent in a message praising Lindsay’s “clear, precise and engaging writing” while thanking him for assisting their club when called upon.

Neil Farrer of the SNIBG called the Lindsays “a very valued couple” and joked that their committee’s biggest challenge is “keeping Frank on topic at meetings, because he just knows so much”.

Given the scope of assistance offered to individual beekeepers and the industry on a wider scale by the Lindsays over almost six decades, it seemed only fitting that, when this out-of-town scribe was looking for a ride back into the city at the end of the night, it was the Lindsays who ended up playing taxi driver – another thankless job to add to a long list. And a highly educational journey it was too.


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