Bees really are the heroes of the world — without them to pollinate our food we would be in big trouble.
This month is Bee Aware Month— a time to think about how we can help bees.
Hawke's Bay is fortunate to have the amazing Arataki Honey Visitor Centre right in its backyard.
The family-owned business has been around since 1944, not only producing some of the best honey in New Zealand but educating young and old about the importance of looking after our hard-working honey bees.
Percy Berry started the business 74 years ago. His son Ian carried it on and recently retired in March last year. His daughter Pam Black is now the general manager of the national company.
HR Health and Safety and Visitor Centre manager Gayle Hutcheson has worked for Arataki Honey for eight years.
"I just love it. Previously I have worked for a number of corporate businesses — working for a family-owned business is just so different," Gayle said.
"I'm treated like one of the family and feel so appreciated. It's brilliant."
Gayle says many of the people that visit the centre are astounded by the place.
"They love seeing the bees both inside and out. We have recently added a 3-D painting for visitors to have their photo taken with. Painted by talented local artist Sophie Blokker, it really looks as if you are in the picture.
" One of the favourite things our visitors like to do is honey tasting."
Gayle says their best seller is clover, however, in the winter it's manuka.
"Blue Borage is always a hit and hard to get anywhere else, bees love borage. In fact they love anything blue so we encourage people to plant blue or purple into their garden. They also love cluster plants like lavender and rosemary.
"Bee Awareness Month is about doing as much as we can to make it easier for bees to collect honey. Simple things such as leaving some water out for them. If you do have to spray chose bee-friendly pesticides and avoid spraying during the day when the bees are out and about or on plants when flowers are blooming.
"Bees pollinate up to a third of our food crops so they are very important to us especially in Hawke's Bay — the fruit bowl of New Zealand. Our bees are now pollinating the stone fruit and soon will be onto the pip fruit and blueberries.
"We can also help our bees by eating delicious NZ honey to support our beekeepers."
Arataki Honey provides education for schools free of charge "because we want the children to know as much about them as possible.
"For example — a bee doesn't want to sting them because they die."
Gayle says they are also very conscious of sustainability and have recently installed solar panels which will likely see them producing almost 100 per cent of their electricity.
"We do honey refills so there are fewer containers going out and it's cheaper for the customer."
There really is something for everyone at Arataki Honey Visitor Centre including a large range of local products such as Hohepa Beeswax candles and Apple Press apple juice.
"We make an effort to buy locally. Hopefully, it was our Arataki bees that pollinated those Hawke's Bay apples."
A great place to take the children these school holidays.
Arataki Honey Visitor Centre is open 7 days a week from 9am to 5pm.