Canterbury-based Alyssa Wilson (17) is the 2021 recipient of Apiculture New Zealand Ron Mossop Youth Scholarship in beekeeping.

Alyssa topped a strong field of candidates to win the scholarship, which includes $2000 to support training and set-up costs for new beekeepers, a one-year membership with industry body Apiculture New Zealand and attendance at Apiculture New Zealand’s industry conference to be held in June 2022.

The scholarship was set up to help young people into a career in beekeeping and the judges identified Alyssa as showing great potential. “She’s clearly not afraid to get stuck in and learn as much as she can. With a strong work ethic and a real interest in bees, she is going to be an asset to our industry,” says judge Neil Mossop.

Alyssa says she was “pretty chuffed” to win and is planning to use the scholarship to help fund her involvement in the New Zealand Apprenticeship in Apiculture scheme run through Primary ITO in partnership with Apiculture New Zealand.

Alyssa was introduced to the world of bees earlier this year when she was helping a family friend, Richelle Corson, with dogs that were being trained to detect AFB, a common bee disease. “Her husband James, who is a beekeeper, asked if I wanted to have a try with the bees and I thought I’d give it a go,” explains Alyssa.

She ended up doing two weeks of work experience with the Corson’s Mid-Canterbury business, Gowanleagold Honey, and thoroughly enjoyed it. “There’s such a wide variety of things to do and you’re always kept busy. And it’s outside, which I really like,” she says.

Alyssa was encouraged by staff at Ellesmere College to apply for the beekeeping scholarship as her interest has always been in practical, hands-on learning rather than classroom learning. “I didn’t think I stood much of a chance, so it was a big surprise to win,” she says.

Alyssa is now working with Gowanleagold Honey and will stay there over the next two years of her apprenticeship, learning on the job with James. “He’s a good teacher and I’ve learnt so much already. I know there are lots of opportunities in beekeeping so I’m excited to learn more and find out what interests me the most.”

The Ron Mossop Youth Scholarship is named for apiculture industry pioneer, Ron Mossop, who started his family beekeeping business Mossop’s Honey in the 1940s. He was a strong advocate for beekeeper education and beekeeping best practice with this legacy continued through the scholarship. Ron’s son, Neil, says the family is thrilled to be able to support talented young beekeepers into the industry. “It is a privilege to be able to help them meet their potential,” he says.