Sunchaser Investments Limited Partnership purchased 150 hives in early 2017 to assist with avocado pollination. The bees have thrived on the island and eighteen months later we have in the region of 280 resident bee hives throughout the orchard.
The bees are tended to by our resident beekeepers, Tahna Prince and Amy Abraham. Tahna and Amy both hold New Zealand Certificates in Apiculture gained through Taratahi Agricultural Training Centre and are DECA certified. They are a dynamic team with a great passion for the nurturing and protection of honey bees and the vital role they play in pollination and the maintenance of the environment.
A planting programme of bee friendly fodder crops has been undertaken over this period with a further 7000 Manuka trees being planted in late 2018.
Resident bees have posed some challenges on the orchard. The team have had to adapt some avocado management practices in a bid to keep the bees safe. The requirement for night spraying using products which are softer on the environment and the bees, has been far outweighed by the benefits of having strong, resident bee hives on site for pollination.
A small number of bumble bee hives will also be introduced to the orchard during pollination 2018 with the aim of building up the resident bumble bee population over time. Bumble bees offer additional benefit during pollination by venturing out in more extreme conditions than honey bees. They tend to be out earlier and stay out later and they are able to visit many more flowers per minute than honey bees.
Sunchaser’s long term goal is to build up the bee population to a point where it is no longer necessary to bring hives over from the mainland for pollination purposes. Thereafter, diversifying into honey production.
These bees are tending to brood (baby bees) the capped cells are the brood cells.