In the heart of the Pohangina Valley in Manawatu-Whanganui, a 10-year-old girl has the most unlikeliest of pets.

"I didn't want cats or dogs. I wanted bees," said Aria Cameron.

An entrepreneur from a young age, she has become New Zealand's youngest beekeeper after persuading her parents she was serious.

"I sold my heifer to the freezing works and got quite a bit of money. At the time, one of Dad's workers had just got a swarm that they caught on the back of the farm, so I bought all the equipment including Mum's bee suit."


Aria quickly showed she was committed and it wasn't just a flight of fancy.

"She was looking up things on the internet, reading books on them - you know you've got to roll with that," said her mother Nadya Craig.

"You've got to give her that and that's what we did,"

Aria has been guided by local bee guru Gavin Lambert, a mentor to many aspiring beekeepers.

He admitted he was especially surprised when Aria approached him at the Feilding Farmers' Market.

"Years ago, I would have said she was a bit young for it but no, I'm quite happy working with her. She's had the odd sting to realise they can get a bit hot," said Lambert.

He said she has what it takes to be a top beekeeper.

"Aria has the initiative to do the work and she's very focused on it. She may not be able to lift those boxes but, every year, she'll get better and better."


Her goal wa to increase the number of hives, although she was unsure whether her mother was as enthusiastic.

"I don't think Mum wants to [have more hives] because she does all the heavy lifting," she said.

Aria oversees the entire process from caring for the bees to producing the honey and getting it to market. The workload wasn't for the faint hearted, but Aria's parents wanted to instill a strong work ethic.

"I sell it at the county fair in Pohangina, and I sell it at my school and I give a lot of it to friends and family," she said.

The pint-sized beekeeper's big ambitions were sure to set the industry abuzz with her enthusiasm and dedication.

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