Becoming a beekeeper for a day

Since starting at the Oamaru Mail I’ve been fortunate to have the chance to take up several activities and write about them.

Throughout the year I’ve been involved in steampunk, played a game of croquet and even taken up taekwondo with the Whitestone Taekwondo Club.

The latest venture I can add to the list of quirky activities is a session of beekeeping with Shane Rawson, owner of Whitestone Honey.

Behind the scenes . . . Whitestone Honey beekeeper Shane Rawson examines a frame from a beehive. PHOTO: TYSON YOUNG

Those who know me are probably quite surprised to see me pictured with the honey-makers themselves.

For years I hated the idea of being near bees or any other flying insects that could sting or bite me.

But that has changed after my bout of beekeeping last week.

The session started off with a tour around Mr Rawson’s private property, home to several beehives.

Soon after I introduced myself, Mr Rawson commented on my hair.

“You’ve got curly hair – bees like curly hair,” he said with a bit of a laugh.

I laughed the remark off but couldn’t help but wonder if a bee really would fly into my hair.

Then he took me on a tour to see the hives.

Having bees fly around my head was a bit daunting at first but when I realised they were too busy working to care about me, I began to warm to them.

After becoming somewhat accustomed to the bees, I was suited up with protective gear before we made our way to one of the honey farms with several hives, further up the road.

On the farm I was given the job of feeding each hive with liquid sugar, while Mr Rawson did some maintenance work on them.

Throughout the session he showed me all the intricate workings of a beehive, which I found fascinating and amazing.

Seeing a queen bee in action was quite remarkable.

Near the end of our beekeeping session, bad weather was our cue to leave.

On the drive back to Mr Rawson’s property I checked my clothes to make sure I hadn’t accidentally taken any straggling bees with me.

With no stings, no bites and no bees in my hair, I’d say I had a pretty good day.

I’ll never look at a bee the same way again.

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