Rapanui Bees is a family based beekeeping business. We have been working with our own hobby apiaries for more than 40 years, then in 2008 formed Rapanui Bees Limited (RMP: Rapanui1) and began commercial production.Initially we sold our produce wholesale to Manuka Health, but we have recently started exporting to Singapore and selling online in New Zealand.
We believe in doing things as close to nature as possible and market both creamed and raw honey to meet varied consumer demand. The raw honey is straight from the bee and can be disconcerting for those of you who have never eaten it before, but it is especially delicious. It will crystallise over time but this is a natural process easily reversed by gently warming in the sun or some other cosy space.
Our work practices are bee friendly and although we do have to meet normal business targets we try and do this without exploiting our lovely furry little partners. We don’t transport our bees to commercial crop pollination and while around 50% of our hives are moved to Mānuka fields the remainder stay at home to enjoy the bee heaven here in the Waikato.
We harvest our honey gently with escape boards, making sure we look after the bees and leave some of their own supplies of honey and pollen as natural winter supplies. We replace our queens on a regular cycle to ensure hives stay healthy and virile, using our own queens that we grow in special incubator hives. Keeping a strong genetic mix is important helping to maintain the strength and honey gathering potential of each hive.
Our bees are mostly located on organic sites or farms where there is no use of pesticides or chemical sprays, however because they can fly over 5 kilometres to gather food we don’t always know what they are up to! They have lots of natural wildflowers to collect nectar from: red and white clover, chicory, dandelion, buttercup, fruit trees such as plums, apples, peaches, pears, herbs like rosemary and thyme, roses, barberry, flaxes, gorse and blackberry plus a wide variety of native tree flowers such as rata, hoheria, five finger, tawa and lemonwood.
Our bush honey hives are scattered around the sacred mountain, Maungatautari, a 3,400 hectare mainland ecological island and wildlife bird reserve. This reserve is predator fenced which has allowed the bush to revert to its natural state, so again the bees have a feast of native flowers to feed on. This is where we collect our Rewarewa honey with it’s beautiful deep rich amber colour and delicious caramel flavour. It is perfect to use in asian-style dishes or for desserts, and as an added bonus the honey contains high levels of antioxidants.
In the summer we take some hives to mānuka fields. Again the farmers here do not spray and the bees fly free to gather mānuka nectar over the short flowering season, in the heat of summer. Mānuka honey takes on the flavours of the region the hives are situated in, much like how a good red wine reflects the ground the vines have grown in. It is always exciting at harvest time having the first taste. Mānuka honey also contains methylglyoxal, a compound found in most types of honey but usually in only small quantites. In New Zealand mānuka honey the methylglyoxal levels are uniquely high, the higher the concentration of methylglyoxal, the stronger the antibiotic effect.
More information on methylglyoxal in mānuka honey on mānuka page
We bring all our hives back in the autumn to farms and bush land close to our home base at Parawera, making it easy for us to check that they are happy and healthy, top up their food supplies when needed and attend to other housekeeping duties like painting the hives, cleaning the bottom boards and replacing old dark wax frames with nice new, fresh golden combs. We make sure our bees are safely snuggled down for the winter, then leave them to rest up before the annual cycle starts again in early spring.
Our winters are mild with some frost, autumns are clear and crisp while summers are long and hot. The air is clear, there is no pollution of any kind and this reflects in the beautiful honey our bees produce.
Our Kaupapa (philosophy)
- To have happy healthy bees and to put them first at all times.
- Employ staff who love bees and who enjoy working with like minded beekeepers.
- Provide an excellent workplace for all to enjoy .
- Show a strong commitment to excellence and quality in all we do.
- Use safe work practices .
- To use sustainable methods in all areas of our beekeeping.
- Keep as close to nature as possible and respect the constraints she places on our beekeeping activities.
- Maintain a successful business that recognisies and values the contribution made by all staff and whanau.
- And have lots of fun on the way.
Some whakatauaki (proverbs or sayings) we like:
- “Feel the fear and do it anyway!” - Susan Jeffers
- Nau te rourou naku te rourou - (Your basket and my basket. Each can make a contribution to the whole)
- “To achieve great things, two things are needed, a plan and not quite enough time” - Leonard Bernstein
- “The impossible is just a myth!” - ( on the back of a rough boy’s ute )
- Mauri mahi, mauri ora; mauri noho, mauri mate. - (Industry begets prosperity; idleness begets poverty)
- He mahi kai te taonga - (Survival is the treasured goal)
Depending on the day depends on which whakatauaki we use!