In late March, the New Zealand government acted quickly and decisively declaring a National State of Emergency. New Zealand went into alert level 4 – total shutdown almost immediately. Our Bees & Trees honey business there was designated as an essential business because we are direct food producers, and because we are caring for livestock.
My operations manager in NZ and I quickly conferenced and developed a series of health and safety protocols for our workers. We divided our staff into 3 two-person teams and isolated each team to mitigate exposure risks. We had one team working to extract the honey we had just harvested, and two teams in the field working with the beehives.
Each of our personnel needed special ID cards to substantiate that they were essential workers who had business in the areas that they would be traveling. It was a tense and stressful time for our business. We needed to extract the honey just harvested in a timely manner, which is about a 6-8 week operation. If either of that team became sick, it could jeopardize that entire operation. Meanwhile, the two beekeeping teams had critical, time-sensitive tasks with all of the hives in the field including feeding the hives that had just come out of the Manuka crop.
Our team really rose to the challenge and thankfully New Zealand was able to quickly bring the outbreak of COVID 19 under control. At this time, we are at alert level 1 without restriction. A really amazing accomplishment which is a credit to how responsive all New Zealanders were to this crisis.
I’ve had to cancel my planned June trip to New Zealand and hope to return at some time in the NZ spring, which is October in the US. In the meantime, I take comfort in knowing our honey and hives are in good care by our team there.
Mike, Bees & Trees Founder
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