Jo Donnelly and Ian Stewart started Bees Blessing 4 years ago. Their land is in the Mangaroa Valley near Upper Hutt and they grow most of their own fruit and vegetables as well as keeping chooks. Ian has been a beekeeper for 40 years but Jo was a city girl until she met Ian.
They used to make their delicious lemon and honey drink using their own organic produce, but the business has done so well that they now have to buy in the lemons and the honey. Ian hopes to expand the beehives so that there will be enough honey in future to use in the cordials. All the products use organic ingredients as much as possible, but organic honey is becoming scarcer in New Zealand as the varroa mite moves down the country.
Every cordial recipe is a Bees Blessing original and every step of the production process is carried out by hand by the small team at Bees Blessing. The cordials are meticulously human-made; ginger extraction is a demanding four-step juicing, grinding, soaking and squeezing process from which emerges a thick gingery syrup full of goodness. And the result is a high quality artisanal product which tastes simply delicious.
Oh – and Ian is an expert at putting a chook to sleep – by tucking its head under one wing. Great party trick!