Raglan bee farm Hunt and Gather Bee Co is buzzing: They are not only having their own stand at Fieldays for the first time, but they also just started crowdfunding to grow the company and develop new markets.
From their minimum target of $175,000 they have already raised $120,101 since last Friday. Director Hannah O'Brien says: "It has been amazing so far. We were confident when we started, but I didn't quite expect the huge amount of lovely messages people left us when buying shares."
Hannah runs Hunt and Gather Bee Co together with her husband and beekeeper Rory where they produce raw and sustainable Kānuka, Manuka, Rewarewa, West Coast Blend and Bush Blend honey. They have won numerous awards for their honey and business achievement, including a gold medal for their Kānuka honey.
Now they want to enter the next phase of their business journey by selling shares in their company allowing them to break into the international market. Hannah says the expansion into the export market is costly and they also have a couple of other changes in the pipeline.
"We want to bring our honey processing with our own extraction and packing facility in-house. We already bought two-thirds of the machinery over time, but we still need to get the rest and have the shed set up and certified before the beginning of the honey season at the end of October - which is why we started the campaign now."
Hunt and Gather Bee Co is currently selling its honey to 45 retailers throughout New Zealand, including selected New World supermarkets and Commonsense Organics. But the company has also received inquiries from Singapore, China, Japan, the UK, Malaysia and Germany.
Since their beekeeping journey started in 2016, Hunt and Gather has grown rapidly: From 16 hives, they have now grown their hive numbers by around 2000 per cent.
The two high school sweethearts fell in love with beekeeping when they moved to Cromwell in the South Island while "exploring their own backyard".
Rory says: "Bees are fascinating animals. They are such gentle and efficient creatures. There are thousands of them living together and every single one has their role. The way their society works is marvellous."
Having a dairy farming background, Rory wanted to pursue a career in agriculture. "But we wanted something a bit different and bees fit with our lifestyle in terms of sustainability and low impact on the environment," Hannah says.
After they had their first child and with another one on the way, Hannah and Rory wanted to be closer to family and decided to move back to the Waikato in 2015. To help launch their own business, Hannah and Rory sold their house and moved into a 36 square metre section of their honey shed with their two young children.
Since 2018, Hunt and Gather Bee Co increased its annual revenue by 340 per cent.
"But it's our commitment to our environmental, ethical and social goals that we are most proud of. We've planted over 3000 native trees since we began and we now have pest traps at a number of our hive sites," Rory says.
The couple used crowdfunding to grow their business before, so they are now looking to sell shares in their company in a similar way. For the current campaign, Hannah and Rory had so much interest during the online pre-registration alone that they had to introduce a limit on the amount that one person can invest.
Investment packages range from $500 to $70,000 and are available until July 9 or until the maximum target of $350,000 is reached.
The couple is also especially excited for Fieldays. "Ever since I knew Rory, we have gone as visitors and customers every year. We were registered for last year's event that was called off due to Covid. Having our own stand at such a big event will be pretty cool."
You will find Hunt and Gather Bee Co at The Pantry where visitors can taste their honey.
Hannah and Rory will also have a market special and give out vouchers for discounts on their online shop.
Click here to invest in Hunt and Gather Bee Co.
You can check out their website here.
Tickets to Fieldays can be booked here.