Scott Williamson the beekeeperLast summer I had the pleasure of meeting Scott the beekeeper. In a fairy-tale log cabin, set in a picturesque valley just out of Nelson, Scott has been keeping bees for over 14 years. His bees are certainly lucky to be living in such a wonderful environment. After mentioning he would like to keep bees to his beekeeping dentist, Scott found a hive of bees at his front door. He explains he learnt beekeeping ‘ by killing bees, making mistakes and reading.” His hive numbers went from “one to three to ten, to one to three to ten, as you do. Making mistakes and learning on the way”.
Now Scott defines his role now as the local beekeeping “pusher”. He is the agent for Encyrods and sells bee keeping equipment out of his home. Scott is also the president of the Nelson Beekeeping club. The clubs membership is around eighty which is around one in three hobbyist beekeepers in the area. As president Scott works hard to create a club which is all inclusive and embraces all the different styles and manners in which people choose to keep their bees. As long as beekeepers are treating for varroa, inspecting for American foulbrood and keeping their bees safe the club does not judge peoples beekeeping methods. He keeps the Club meetings positive and interesting. Recently they enjoyed a mead making session.
The thing Scott loves most about his beekeeping is ‘nobody bugs you when you are with your bees‘ and the pollination of his property. His garden is full of organic fruit trees and he enjoys seeing his bees working in his flowers. At the moment he has around 8 hives and finds he gives away a lot of his honey and recently has been making mead with all the excess. ‘One of the surprising things about beekeeping is that you don’t realise that you may end up with 80 kilos of honey. What do you do with it!”. He loves the continual learning and the delightful people he meets through his beekeeping circles. Scott admits that ‘a disproportionate number of beekeepers are either dentists, pilots or Germans, there must be something to it’. Perhaps beekeeping is attractive to people who like following a defined methodology?A new venture he is now involved with is collecting bee venom and making bee venom cream. Working with a professional colleague he has developed a skincare range called One Natural Skincare. Using a plate of glass which has wires across it hooked up to a computer controlled pulse device. The plate is placed in front of the hive. The bees come out of the hive, are irritated by the gentle electrical current stimulus and respond by stinging the glass. The bees are not hurt as their sting can not penetrate the glass so their stingers are not dislodged. As they sting the bees release alarm pheromones which alert more hive bees to sting the glass plate. The venom dries on the glass plate as a clear smear. This substance is scraped off and collected and added to a range of cosmetics. “ The cream is organic and as natural as you can get without being stupid” explains Scott. You can harvest venom from bees every couple of days but Scott thinks this is a little cruel so prefers to only rile his bees up every couple of weeks. Sales are rocketing, both locally and around the country. Each of his jars of cream contain around 100 stings.
I have been using this cream for several months now and love it and the way the bees are kept. Each time I apply the cream I think of those happy Nelson bees buzzing around their private apple orchard and returning to their colourfully painted hives. I am still waiting to look like 21 again but definitely my skin is smoother and clearer! Check it out here
Varroa was discovered in Nelson around 6 years ago. As a way of attempting to control the spread of this devastating mite every hive in the Nelson area was confiscated and taken to the North Island and any feral hives which were found were destroyed. This obviously led to a total collapse in numbers of bees in the area. Unfortunately this management did not stop the spread of Varroa through the South Island. Over the last two years there has been a huge increase in hobby beekeeping with a new generation of people keeping bees. Now the bee population is returning slowly to pre varroa levels. Scott does believe that these new beekeepers are better beekeepers as they only know how to manage bees with varroa rather than the older beekeepers who see varroa and its treatment as an imposition.When Scott is not attending his bees or at work, he can be found in his den of antiquity, home brewing a range of life’s elixirs. Upon entering his shed I am greeted with large glass jars bubbling with all manner of brews. ‘If you are going to have hobby’s you may as well have good hobby’s” laughs Scott. He makes his own pinot, beer, mead, cider and brandy. Life is good in Nelson.