31 January 2023

Scholarship opens up opportunities for ambitious young beekeeper

Canterbury-based Lucas Waldin (19) is the recipient of the 2023 Apiculture New Zealand Ron Mossop Youth Scholarship in beekeeping.

Luke was a standout candidate for 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 2023.

The scholarship was set up to help young people into a career in beekeeping and the judges said Luke showed great potential and a real enthusiasm for the industry.

Luke first became interested in beekeeping at high school after learning about it from friends that were into beekeeping. When he started looking for a job he thought, “Why not beekeeping?” and managed to get a position with Wright Honey Co. in 2018. Luke says he started out doing odd jobs—cutting sack for smokers, doing up hive straps, etc. and progressed to taking part in the honey harvest—loading boxes and cracking hives. Luke says he has enjoyed working more consistently with bees.

“Working with the bees, that interaction, there’s heaps to learn and how little things that you do have a big effect on them.”

He is now working full time at Wright Honey Co. while completing the New Zealand Apprenticeship in Apiculture scheme run through Primary ITO in partnership with Apiculture New Zealand. Luke says the three-day block course with the tutor was “phenomenal” as they had so much information to pass on. He says the course has provided a well-rounded learning base that makes him step back and research a bit deeper.

Luke says he was “pretty stoked and surprised” to be awarded the scholarship, which he says opens up many more opportunities for further training that will add to his skill set, such as getting a forklift licence. It will also help him cover other costs, such as his DECA (Disease Elimination Conformity Agreement) without having to juggle finances, he says.

He hopes one day to start his own beekeeping operation and says the Ron Mossop Scholarship will enable him to engage in the higher learning that will be crucial for his success.

“That’s something I’d be keen to work towards. It’s a long way off but I’m keen to learn what I need to get there eventually.”

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.