Born in Leads, a city of one million people in the UK, Val Holmes now finds herself in the small rural community of Tinui in New Zealand. Having changed her career direction a number of times, spanning over many countries, apiculture is now something that Val has found herself doing.
Trained as a chef, Val started her professional life in the food industry due to having an interest in food science. This wasn’t to be for very long. With the bright lights of London calling, Val made the move south where she became a house keeper for a wealthy family in Knightsbridge. While also having an interest in travel, Val decided that Camp America was something she wanted to do. Upon returning to the UK her working life took another direction into IT; an industry that would take her all over the world and one she would remain in for almost three decades.
It was the early 1990’s when Val started in data input for a large dairy company. Building her way up, she found herself moving into service desk management and working in places like Rome for Telecom Italia, in their Global Network Management Centre, and Brussels in Belgium for Coca-Cola. After moving to New Zealand with her partner Garry she progressed to project management and has run a number of large business and technology projects for the likes of Accident Compensation Corporation and New Zealand Post.
In 2002 Val and Garry bought a property in the small rural community of Tinui, roughly a two hour drive from New Zealand's capital city Wellington. Always wanting to own a farm, financial constraints meant that that wasn’t possible. It was whilst talking to a neighbour and local farmer they discovered that potentially bees could aid in realising their dream of living and working rurally. Purchasing 52 beehives in April 2007, Tinui Honey was established. Not knowing anything about bees, they were on a steep learning curve.
Having developed their own local brand they also sell bulk honey to overseas markets. For what started off as a hobby, Tinui Honey is now a fully commercial beekeeping enterprise with hundreds of hives dotted around farms in the districts. “We have built a self-sufficient business where we also have our own extraction facility and raise our own queens.
"We are only a small player in the industry that has grown exponentially since we began, but we’ve never set out to be a large player with a key focus being on quality instead of quantity.”
Happy with her current career direction, bees are allowing Val to live and work in the country. With a passion for queen rearing, she feels a sense of achievement after each season’s crop has been extracted. “It’s great to be able to work outdoors and see the fruits of your labour realised”.
It is fantastic that you have been able to fulfil your rural dream Val. With all of the buzz around bee's over the last few years you have certainly been on an adventure!