A full-time commercial beekeeper for 47 years, John Berry sells comb honey at the Hastings farmers market and through Arataki Honey's retail shop.

He originally worked for his family’s business Arataki who he still works with closely, and in partnership with his brother up until last year.

“Throughout most of my career I have specialised in comb honey production but for the last five years have only produced it for my family and friends. Apart from bees my main passion in life is voluntary conservation work, especially working with native birds, but I will have a crack at anything,” Berry said.

“It was conservation work that indirectly led to my current business as whenever I went away especially onto offshore islands I would always take some comb honey along and I found the containers I now use in my business to be ideal. Everyone always raved about the honey and many commented on how it was impossible to buy comb honey nowadays. For many years I have been going to the Hastings farmers market and have always really enjoyed the experience, so last winter I talked to my wife about it and we decided to have a go.”

Comb honey is difficult, time-consuming and expensive to produce. The risk of crop failure is much higher and hives, weather, and flowers have to be in perfect condition to produce a crop, Berry said. He has 340 hives and does all the work on them himself.

“All are within one hour's drive of Hastings but you would be amazed at the difference in climate and floral sources within this fairly small region.”

He labels some of his honey by floral type including Clover, Manuka, Multi floral, and Kidnappers.

For more information contact John Berry at jrberry@ihug.co.nz.