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Beekeeping Family Keeping Legacy Alive

December 11, 2016

Honey, Honey Bees, Honey Industry

Reece Adamson comes from a long line of beekeepers—five generations to be exact. Adamson runs Wildpure Ltd in Central Otago, New Zealand with his wife Louise where they produce organic thyme and clover honey as a family. Growing up around the practice, beekeeping seemed inevitable for Reece. After working in Canada for a season, Adamson taught beekeeping in Tanzania, allowing him to learn a different set of challenges compared to New Zealand. "It made the challenges we face here seem quite straightforward by comparison—to try and work with bees that wouldn't even stay in the beehive for more than a couple of weeks," he said.

Reece and Louise established Wildpure in 2008 and have 500 hives within a roughly 250-acre radius, still using some equipment from older relatives who have passed on. Reece still has some of his grandmother’s hive and continues to use some of her methods for extracting honey. Reece works on Wildpure as a full-time beekeeper while Louise does the administrative work and some raising in the spring. The couple also have a full-time staff member to help them out. The couple keeps busy extracting honey for other beekeepers until March when the season ends.

Reece believes a combination of stubbornness and his own lifestyle are the reasons behind his family legacy. His family’s ties to beekeeping go as far back as the 1860s with Andrew Gibson, a farmer near Temuka who eventually gave some of his hives to his nephew Adam and Adam’s wife Lucy Adamson in 1906. In the early 1930’s, Lucy’s youngest son, Bill, took over her beehives and moved them to Central Otago for the clover honey that could be produced. Later, the hive was taken over by Bill’s two sons, Ernest and Walter. Reece, who is Ernest’s son, now operates his dad’s hive and his uncle, Walter, still operates Adamson’s Honey in Wedderburn.

Reece prefers being self-employed, especially given beekeepers are generally associated with being a quiet and independent group. Wildpure is a small family beekeeping business producing organic honey and striving to create some of the best honey in Central Otago, which is considered one of the few places in the southern hemisphere that produces thyme honey. Lately, however, clover honey has been in short supply due to recent dry summer seasons, helping drive the demand of it in general. The couple consider themselves to be production driven rather than market driven, and for that reason, they have no plans on expanding any time soon.

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