Sherry Valley Apiaries was set up by Jeffrey lukey in 1979 as a hobby. The business expanded into a full time operation around 1998 spreading from western Nelson into Marlborough and the Sounds.
Our hives are located from St Arnaurd in the south through to Kenepuru Sound in the north.
We started the Sherry Valley Gold label for our honey which has been very successful. Pre 1980s honey was sold based on colour but Jeff decided to sell his honey by variety, such as, clover, Manuka etc. This is now the norm throughout New Zealand.We still sell blends where the honey is multi-floral, such as, forest and field and a native blend.
We have three staff running our Marlborough operation. Jimmy, head beekeeper, who is helped by Ilona and Matt. On the Nelson side, Jeff, Derek, Michael and Stu run the hives during the spring season through to Christmas. Jeff and Michael then move to our Contract Honey Extraction shed at Sherry River, Nelson for the rest of the season. We also have seasonal staff helping in the honey shed during the summer.
Sherry Valley Honey is extracted at our own plant at Sherry River, Nelson. The honey boxes come into the storage area, where any bees left can fly out a window to a small hive outside. The boxes are then wheeled into the warm room to bring the temperature up to around 35 degrees, this helps the honey flow through the pipes and filters. The frames of honey then pass through an uncapping machine which cuts off the wax capping that the bees have put over the cells of honey; and two high powered extractors spin the honey out of the combs. From here, the honey is pumped through a machine called the Hummer, which uses centrifugal force to separate the wax particles from the liquid honey, which then feeds into tanks. Drums of honey are then filled, labelled and stored. As well as processing honey from our own hives, we also provide a contract extracting service for other Beekeepers in the Nelson and Marlborough regions.
Our potted honey also comes from the tanks or drums which have been warmed up. A sample is taken from each batch for testing. The pollen count can help determine what floral source the honey came from, and therefore the variety.
The leftover beeswax from the Hummer is collected, and is melted down in two water-jacketed melters. It is then drained out into molds to cool. Beeswax is used in pharmaceuticals, polisher, and is also made into sheets with honey cell hexagonal imprints, to go into new frames for bees to draw out into new honey comb.