Comvita Beekeeper Spotlight: Meet Kelly
Humans have been beekeeping for nearly 10,000 years, cultivating safe and healthy places for bees to form thriving colonies. Some of the oldest parts of that tradition are alive and well at Comvita, where we’ve been beekeeping since 1974 (and for one of our founders, since the 1920s!). It’s important that we pass down the craft of beekeeping to new generations, and blend the old ways with the new to create the world’s #1 UMF™ Manuka Honey. So we’d like to introduce you to the beekeepers blending modern science and heritage tradition, passionately stewarding the bees and the ecosystem to create healthy, sustainable honey.
This is a conversation we had with Comvita Beekeeper Kelly McKenzie.
Matamata, New Zealand
How did you get involved in beekeeping (and when)?
When I joined Comvita in September 2017.
What do you love about beekeeping?
I love how fascinating bees are, and their lifecycle. From the Queen Bee to the worker bee, there is a hierarchy in the hive. You may not know that males have very little value in a hive. I also love how much impact Bees have on our lives - their pollination is responsible for our food sources.
What part of your beekeeping practices are based in old traditions? What part of the practice has been influenced by modern practices/technologies?
In the modern practices, we rely heavily on technology, especially for traceability from source-to-shelf. It’s important that we can prove exactly where your honey on your table came from. In the old practices, using the smoker is an older tradition. So is re-queening when the queen isn’t performing, and painting the hive boxes with colors the bees are able to recognize.
The health of bees is so important to Comvita customers. What practices do we employ that keep the long-term health of the hive in mind?
The long-term health of the hive comes from the health of the queen. We check regularly to make sure she is healthy and laying, and that the bees have enough nearby food sources to to work and look after the young - as well as feed themselves.
What about beekeeping in New Zealand makes the job special?
The remoteness. These hives are located deep in nature. I have traveled the world, and I still say NZ is the most beautiful country. I am very privileged with my job and where it takes me. I’ve managed to see some incredible countryside since working with Comvita. Bees are truly amazing.
What’s one word you’d use to describe the feeling you experience when beekeeping?
How do you incorporate Manuka into your daily routine?
I love honey and love our product. I put a teaspoon in my green tea in the morning, and have it on my porridge. I incorporate our honey into most of my cooking… I love the stuff.
What’s your favorite hobby?