The Authentic Honey Co is a family owned and operated Beekeeping business located in the beautiful Bay Of Plenty, New Zealand.
Established in 1987 our goal remains the same: To share delicious New Zealand honey with the world.
Our story starts with a swarm of bees.
The year 1987, Dad-Tim Mair found a swarm of bees in the property hedge. With a helping hand from Beekeeper mate Jo, they managed to safely collect his first beehive.
Dad was fascinated. "Your Father wouldn't keep his head out of that hive", Mum laughed. That fascination, a lot of learning and even more hard work ended up building a single beehive into a Beekeeping business of over 800 beehives.
To begin my parents invested the little funds left over after developing a kiwifruit orchard, and bought 50 beehives. A casual agreement to help out Jo (the Beekeeper mate) over pollination taught Dad some basics on how to care for bees and hives were provided to pollinate the orchard.
As the seasons went on pollinating friends kiwifruit and avocado orchards encouraged Tim to split his hives to increase beehive numbers to work on a commercial level. A supportive wife managing the orchard and four young children to provide for, a honey crop after pollination was next on the cards.
As children we have memories of driving in the little truck "just look for a the fields of white" Dad would say as we sought out clover fields. Many stops and long talks were had with landowners asking for a corner of a paddock to keep hives. Tim managed to build good relationships with landowners and find apiaries to keep hives, some of which we are fortunate to use today.
Tim Mair (Dad) with his first honey crop
With changeable weather and unpredictable honey crops Tim sought out blocks of Manuka in different regions to increase the chances of a good honey crop. The bees thrived in the remote, untouched locations and Dad just loved the adventure of it. No cell phone reception, power or noise except for the odd bit of 4wding in his old army dodge to ''look for new bee sites".
With such a busy father beekeeping was the best way to catch up. Back then there were no proper fitting child sized bee-suits. We improvised: a combination of trackies, your thickest socks pulled over the bottom of your pants, gumboots and oversized gloves all topped off with a bee-suit 10x too big. Beestings made it a love/hate occasion. The love of catching up with your father but the paranoid fear of being stung by bees.
I have vivid memories of running across a paddock trying to get the bees out of my hood. The old man found this very amusing and proceeded to tell everyone he saw for a month afterward. A shared memory that made up for the bees stings was an all-purchase BP fuel card. We were allowed magnums, chips, a pie even a drink! All the treats we were rarely allowed. I'm not going to lie, but it was generally the deciding factor of me to do bees. Nick however, just did it because he liked doing bees.
School holidays over summer for Nick generally involved helping over honey the season, and with age was called upon to move pollination hives at night after finishing his day job. With all the previous experience and knowledge passed down we were fortunate to continue the family business with Nick managing the business with the help of his wife after Dad passed away in a tragic accident.
From left-Tim Mair, middle-Reuben Mair, right-Nick Mair.
Thrown into it, the Manuka Boom hit. Grateful to have a very experienced team and understanding land landowners we were able to focus on gathering premium Manuka honey and continue pollination.
With time came change and it was decided to change the name from 'The Mair Family Trust,' to 'The Authentic Honey Co'. With an emphasis on providing Authentic honey the name was fitting. Beehive numbers increased to over 2,000 to accommodate Manuka Blocks. The website, packaged honey for the local and international market with the addition of beeswax candle making was also added to the repertoire.
35 years on the focus of family values and healthy strong hives remains the same. It takes an excellent, hard working crew, loyal landowners, healthy bees (good weather) and good management to produce quality honey. We are grateful to be able to share our delicious raw N.Z honey with the world.