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Sweet success for local beekeeper

Jars of locally produced honey on display at Bow Street Gallery amid glass creations crafted by his father are testimony to Warren Yorston’s determination to develop a business from his hometown.
“It’s difficult to make a living out there,” Warren told the Chronicle from the other side of the divvy where he now lives.

But the 28-year-old, who grew up in Raglan, decided a few years ago to “give it a bit of a shot” anyway in the hope of creating a job for himself here after returning from a trip to America — and now he’s selling his second honey harvest, most of which has gone in bulk, destined for the export market.

But some is left for local distribution, and that’s where Bow Street Gallery comes in.

Warren’s father David — a glazier by trade but known downtown for his glass art and his gift and nursery business of more than 20 years — says he’s happy to see a second generation offering product for sale.
The ‘Sweet As Honey’ that’s now in his shop window has been gathered from pasture flowers and kanuka. And it’s good to keep the business in the family, reckons David or Daffy as most locals know him.

There’s a bigger range of honey and bee-related products to come before long, promise the pair. Warren was busy last Sunday working on a more spectacular display — possibly including the workings of a hive — for his summertime launch of the honey at Bow Street Gallery.

Meanwhile he has someone local working on a “Raglan-type” label for him, he revealed.

Warren started out with just 30 hives bought from a retired commercial beekeeper he worked with about four years ago, and then purchased about 50 more from which to breed bees on deciding it was what he really wanted to do. Now things are fair buzzing with 150 hives scattered around the wider Raglan district from Waingaro and Waitetuna to Te Mata and Te Uku.

Beekeeping keeps both him and partner Kelsey Bruns very busy tending hives, he says, not only most weekends but often during the week as well when the couple can get to Raglan outside their fulltime jobs.
Warren has developed skills as a beekeeper through his scientifically based job with a Government research company that focuses on pollination for New Zealand’s horticultural industries, of which bees are the biggest component.

And while Kelsey is involved in commercial beekeeping for a living, Warren’s brother Terry who works locally in flooring is now also keen to get in on the act, joining Kelsey at work whenever he can.
Warren reckons their project is a good one and definitely worth pursuing. But it’s still very “low key”, he adds.

Keeping bees on private property needs to be negotiated with landowners, and sites registered. There’s plenty of other compliances too which mean turning the business into something even sweeter — and fulfilling the dream of work in Raglan — is “a way off yet”, he admits.

Edith Symes

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