I never once imagined when I became a beekeeper a few moons ago that my free time would change in so many different ways. I had, until that moment, had no real interest whatsoever in the insect world, let alone the stinging kind of insects. Then one day I was unexpectedly invited to assist in the opening of a beehive and I thought, ‘Hell, why not’. Surprisingly, being engulfed in a swirling mass of bees was not scary, and I found their humming buzz and vicinity mesmerising. Now I know this might seem far-fetched and illogical, but believe me, bees are nearly always great fun and have a calming effect on many who chose to interact with them. That is unless you get stung on your bum or your nose – where it really hurts.
From spring through summer my hobby also keeps me in a bee suit most days, which has led to some really great conversation starters, especially at supermarket check-outs, the pharmacy and the library. People are drawn to you and like to interact. I thoroughly enjoy these moments – chatting about bees and answering even the strangest of suppositions that people have. Being a keeper of bees has also taken me into local schools where I have had the privilege to share beekeeping skills with children of various ages. Beekeeping with children has challenged me to study more, as children ask a multitude of questions like, “What time does the queen bee go to bed? “Do bees poop?” or “Do bees get wax from Four Square?”
On a hot day more than a year ago, this hobby had me sipping prosecco with a fellow beekeeper, Isabella, while we mused about bees, the weather and our much anticipated new season’s honey tastings. Then, boom, we had a light bulb moment. Why don’t we do something that has never been done in New Zealand? Why don’t we host a festival to celebrate NZ honey and bees? Since then, the road has been steep and there have been challenges a plenty but neither of us has looked back, and we are proud to say, folks, that The Big Buzz Festival is coming to town.
Our mission is to give people a free, fun-filled day at a festival that promises loads of free honey tastings, honey ice-cream, free talks and workshops, plus a multitude of kids’ activities and live entertainment. The Big Buzz also aims to demystify all forms of bees, encourage pollinator awareness, taste honey, meet a global star, learn about our unique habitat and native flora, watch a master chef demo, taste more honey, play fun games, sip honey mocktails and also appreciate local produce and food trucks. So on Valentine’s Day (February 14) be a honey and come along to the festival at Matakana Primary School from 9am - 4pm.