A Long Sweet History of Beekeeping

From 1888

Suzan Craig’s passion for beekeeping runs in the family, through many generations. Her great-great grandfather, Edward Pearson, arrived in New Zealand in the late 1800’s via the goldfields of Australia. Before long, two of Edward’s eight children, Albert and Ernie, began ‘Pearson Bros’, one of New Zealand’s first honey-producing companies. The first recorded date of the business was 1888, although it’s likely it began well before then. 

Major Edward Pearson (seated) and family, with his pioneering beekeeping sons Albie and Tom (standing).
The sweet old days: Pearson Bros honey labels
Albie & Tom, partners in beekeeping.

Through Generations

Albert and Ernie gradually expanded the business and soon had hives in Claudelands, Hamilton right through to Rotorua; later teaming up with another family of beekeepers, the Hood family. They bought land together at Waihi beach from where they further expanded their beekeeping practise. “My grandmother bought a beach house there,” says Suzan. “Over the years, this Kiwi bach was expanded many times, and is where I spent every weekend and holiday growing up, from a ‘little nipper’ through to a teenage lifeguard.”

After WWII, when Suzan’s great uncle Howard returned from the war, he was allocated a job as an assistant on a dairy farm by the New Zealand Government.  Luckily, he was able to switch jobs to work with his uncles in the beekeeping business. Howard continued to keep bees until he was in his nineties, although by the 1960s it was just as a hobby.

To a New Chapter 

In 1973, Suzan’s family moved to Auckland. Howard then passed on the art of beekeeping to Suzan’s father, Professor John Craig, and Suzan says she grew up with beehives outside her bedroom window. For many years, beekeeping continued to be a hobby for the Craig family, until Suzan purchased the land at Tahi – and began a new chapter in her family’s long and successful beekeeping history.

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