Ben Collier, who owns the Manuka honey enterprise Bee and Flow in eastern Taranaki alongside his wife, shared their journey from recognising the potential of their land to overcoming the challenges of nature with REX host Dom George.
They detailed their unique and innovative farming and beekeeping practices which have resulted in high-quality honey production and international partnerships. Collier described how the couple turned their focus from traditional sheep and cattle farming to beekeeping, utilising the naturally abundant Manuka on their land.
"We sort of saw it as an opportunity, I suppose, to start to look critically at the hills and some of the areas that were less productive and seeing if we could make something from the Manuka that grows there and regenerates here so quickly," he said.
Beyond honey production, they also delved into the unique practices on their 450-hectare farm, where they balance a honey business with a once-bred dairy beef heifer system. The farm, enriched by a 450-hectare native bush acting as a reservoir for the bees, utilises both productive flats and steep hills for beef production.
The couple's dedication has also led to partnerships overseas, especially in California and the Netherlands.
Collier mentioned the challenges they faced during the COVID-19 period but is optimistic about their growth in these markets. Their Manuka honey enterprise has successfully earned the UMF (Unique Manuka Factor) association's approval, providing credibility to their brand and confirming the honey's authentic antibacterial and antimicrobial properties.
He reflected on his past as a Black Sticks hockey player and how growing up on the farm has held him in good stead for his sports career.
The Colliers also host an annual farm run, which coincides with Ben's late father's birthday, allowing them to celebrate his memory and invite the community to explore the farm.
Listen to the full chat between Ben Collier and Dominic George above.