The latest class for the New Zealand Certificate in Apiculture at UCOL Wairarapa has been a great success, with half of the learners receiving job offers before they even finished.
Of the six learners on the programme, three have accepted job offers.
The 18-week programme covers everything aspiring beekeepers need to start in the industry, from the life-cycle of bees to queen breeding. Learners maintain the 24 hives at UCOL Wairarapa, extract and pot the honey, and even use the excess beeswax to make candles.
Learners also do work experience one day a week with local beekeepers around the Wairarapa, who were thrilled to get extra helping hands.
The programme is taught by Peter Ferris, a well-known apiarist in Wairarapa with 50 years of experience in the industry.
Ferris says there are plenty of apiculture job opportunities for people who are eager to learn and enjoy working outdoors.
“It’s a massive industry here in the Wairarapa and finding work experience opportunities hasn’t been a problem at all. The companies have been very welcoming in taking our learners on board.”
Ari Hohua signed up for the programme already having experience in the honey industry. She was working in honey extraction at Mānuka Health’s Wairarapa factory and had always wanted to give beekeeping a proper go.
“The course was awesome. I’m an outdoors person, so it suited me really well. On any day that Mother Nature was giving us sun, we were out in the field, learning, and thoroughly going through the hives,” says Hohua.
Hohua says she particularly enjoyed learning about bee breeding, building hives, and dealing with diseases that affect bee colonies.
Hohua will begin her beekeeping apprenticeship with Mānuka Health in June next year. Until the hives are ready for her to start her apprenticeship, Hohua is working as a team leader in the factory.
“I’m really excited about starting my apprenticeship. It has all panned out really well and my plans for the future are set in stone. I can’t wait.
“One of the best things about beekeeping is knowing it isn’t going away. It’s constant and thriving, and there will always be jobs in the industry.”
Ferris says Hohua’s positive attitude and motivation saw her excel in the programme.
“Ari shined throughout the programme. Her paperwork was immaculate and she didn’t miss a single day. She is good value and the exactly right kind of person to employ.”