For Martin, bees have always been part of his life, his grandfather and father kept bees at their family home in Ohinewai. The photo to the right is Martin's granddad's hives. Martin developed an interest for it as a teenager, eventually inheriting them! For many years Martin remained a hobbyist beekeeper.
In 2002, with me (Stephanie) expecting our first child, we moved to a lifestyle block in Horsham Downs, near Hamilton. Along with us came Martin's three beehives. Rather than grazing our own stock we decided it would be more fun to graze a few additional bees. So we gradually increased the hive numbers until they reached 40 hives. We focused on collecting bee pollen, selling this to Comvita and any surplus honey to a local commercial beekeeper.
In 2007, new neighbours moved in next door and we struck up a great friendship with them. James also kept a few hives but had many years experience in the industry. While on holiday together a plan was hatched to start a small commercial beekeeping business (Vitality Bee Products Ltd); while the boys would handle the practical stuff with bees and hives, Jame’s wife Miriam and I contributed our collective business and marketing skills to product development (the real work!).
Over the next two years we increased the beehive numbers to 100 and increased sales while the boys carried on their normal office jobs and the girls popped out babies. In 2009, James and Miriam decided to pursue another venture which left them with no spare time, so we purchased their share of the honey business. Don't worry we are still good friends!
Sweetree is now a single family enterprise, but with extended family and friends helping out during busy times and packing honey into jars. Martin still has his full time job as an energy management advisor and works the beekeeping around that (it gets pretty busy fitting everything in!). We also have our friend, Harald helping us at the markets every other weekend. Now that the boys are growing up they enjoy helping out from time to time, Martin is looking forward to when they are both strong enough to help him lift a few beehives!
Bees are highly resilient creatures and very interesting to work with. Visiting remote & beautiful areas in the Waikato while looking after our bees is a joy and nothing beats the taste and aroma of honey from freshly waxed frames on a warm summer’s day.
We really appreciate the wonderful comments we have received from the people who buy our honey and bee pollen. It’s a great feeling to be producing something which people really enjoy and that adds a little something special. We feel very proud that we have been able to bring such beautiful honey for all to share.
Check out our product range on our online shop