Photo by Liam Clayton

Barry Foster is one of the ApiNZ’s board members representing the commercial sector and a beekeeper himself.

How long have you been keeping bees for?

Since the 1970s and on a full time basis since 1984.

Can you tell me a little background about yourself, your enterprise and how you started specialising in pollination?

In the early 1980s there was an expansion of kiwifruit planting across New Zealand and hence a demand for pollination services. I was working full time in horticulture at the time and building up my own beekeeping business with the help of pollination income. At the height I was placing 500 hives into kiwifruit pollination and lesser numbers into apple and stone fruit pollination. Pollination income provided a guaranteed income stream to finance the expansion of my business.

What crops do you specialise in?

Only one apple orchard now.

What’s the most rewarding thing about being a beekeeper?

Being your own boss and working out in the countryside. The people you meet and work with as well.

How do you think members of the public can help or support bees?

By planting long flowering plants that bees love such as rosemary and lavender in their gardens and farms. Work with the Trees for Bees NZ on choosing the best plants to plant.

What’s your favourite bee fact or bee trait?

It always amazes me how quickly and efficiently bees pollination an orchard or a farm. We take so much for granted but I see it happening every year and it still amazes me.

If you weren’t a beekeeper, what would you be doing?

Work in horticulture, building or study.