Founders Story: Paul and Sheryl Steens Top Tips for Home Beekeepers

When asking Sheryl and Paul what their top tips were for home beekeepers, their response of ‘Don’t!’ was initially somewhat surprising, but as they explained in more detail, it was easy to see why this is their recommendation: Because they care so much for the bees. 

‘It is wonderful to have a hive in your back garden but they are not like a kitten or a puppy, they are an insect and there is an incredible depth of understanding needed to keep them - not just from a biological perspective but understanding the ecological side of things.’  

As a beekeeping company, we are privy to the hard work, skill, time and knowledge that goes into keeping a bee colony alive, safe, and nourished. However, as a hobby or novice beekeeper there are many things to consider. Not only are there weather factors that endanger a colony but also pests, viruses, over crowding and starvation that can play a role in whether or not your  colony survives a season. 

Interestingly, the life span of a single bee is as short as between 30 and 60 days, but when a colony is healthy, new baby bees are born and nurtured to keep the colony alive, and the Queen bee healthy and able to continue reproducing. 

Paul and Sheryl suggest that if you are passionate about harvesting your own honey, that a local beekeeping club might be a helpful place to join, to provide you with the support and knowledge of more experienced beekeepers who can help you on your journey. 

‘If this is your passion and skill wonderful, there are usually hobby beekeeping groups to join to learn from others.’ 

With over 40 years of beekeeping experience, Paul and Sheryl know enough to have their own beehive at home, not so much to harvest the honey but to encourage pollination of plants and of course because they just love bees! 

‘We both share a love for a little insect!  We absolutely love bees, how could you not, they are phenomenal creatures.’ 

Catastrophically, in the UK alone, over 35 species of bees are under threat of extinction, and all species face serious threats – with pesticides being one of the key killers of bees. The bio-diversity of the planet faces a rather dismal future if bees were to become extinct because bees pollinate most of the plant based foods on the planet.

Steens Raw Manuka Honey is all tested for glyphosate, and is certified glyphosate free. Because we are able to place our hives in very remote regions of New Zealand, away from mass crop production, our hives are away from these harmful chemicals, allowing our bees to remain healthy and pesticide free.

If you are interested in having your own hives, Paul and Sheryl recommend you do your research on how to look after bees, what diseases to look out for and how to provide your bees with optimal nutrition throughout each season – even when plants are not flowering, and to trust a professional to do the work for you before taking on a colony. 

‘There are beekeepers who will go around and look after hives as their business, we would highly recommend doing this. You can enjoy the bees, the pollination and the honey without the worry of trying to keep them alive.’ 

Because plants don’t flower all year long, it is sometimes difficult for bees to find the nourishment they need to keep their colony alive. With the climate becoming warmer, shifts in seasons can also disrupt flowering times, whilst changes in the seasonal patterns, such as heavy rainfall can affect the feeding behaviour of the bees (they don’t like to get wet). Over his fourty years of beekeeping and looking after his bee colonies, Paul has perfected his ‘Bee Patty’ recipe, which provides all Steens bees with optimal nutrition throughout all seasons, and are perfectly fermented to also provide probiotic support to their digestive systems. 

Learn more about our ethical beekeeping practises

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