Noelani Waters and Sarah Smuts-Kennedy

A leader in the Mānuka honey global market is partnering with a social enterprise to help save the insects that are vital to the industry – bees.

Comvita will work with For the Love of Bees (FTLOB) to protect these vital pollinators and the natural ecosystems they live in.

Since its establishment in 1974, Comvita has been guided by its founding principle of Kaitiakitanga, or guardianship and protection over nature – building on co-founders Claude Stratford and Alan Bougen’s passion for connecting people to nature, while caring for the environment.

FTLOB shares this principle and under the new partnership, the first activity will include the establishment of Comvita-led beekeeping operations across three existing FTLOB sites in Auckland, and ongoing collaboration with local beekeepers to ensure bee health in those communities.

Comvita has also dedicated extensive funding to support the expansion of FTLOB’s operations throughout New Zealand, especially in Auckland and Paengaroa, where Comvita’s main site is located.

“We’re aiming to create a movement that enables bees and people to thrive in harmony. This new partnership with For The Love of Bees is an important step in bringing that movement to life, by working with like-minded communities of bee advocates – supporting them in their efforts to produce tangible, on-the-ground results,” says group CEO of Comvita, David Banfield.

“With New Zealand Aotearoa’s bee populations under threat as a result of factors such as habitat loss, pesticides, and disease, it’s our role as global leaders in the Mānuka honey sector to do all we can to protect our friends, the bees, and support our pollinators in keeping the planet healthy and flourishing.”

FTLOB’s vision holder and trustee, Sarah Smuts-Kennedy, describes the partnership as especially timely given the difficult circumstances COVID-19 had created for organisations like FTLOB.

“The support from Comvita comes at the perfect time and will help us to support our community of urban farmers and scale out across the country. Our Biology-First farming concepts are proven, and our Earthworkers Programme is creating a network of changemakers across New Zealand. Comvita shares our goals of creating a world of difference focused on restoring the environment, while advocating for bee welfare and climate change first and foremost,” says Smuts-Kennedy.