COVID-19 has sparked many questions about why we do the things we do. For some of us, this has meant reassessing some pretty big stuff in our lives, including our careers. With redundancies and a lack of certainty around employment for some, maybe this is the time to ask ourselves what we really want to be doing, and why.
For Jean and Anil Tikram of Waitika Farm in Wairuku, Rakiraki, Fiji, the motivation for starting a bee farm was always heartfelt and from a place of positive change, as described in an interview for the Fiji Sun newspaper: “The motivation for starting a bee farm was initially to keep ourselves meaningfully occupied with something that could make a positive contribution to the environment as well as something that could perhaps have turned into a small business.” It is this remarkable positivity that makes me especially delighted to introduce you to Jean Tikram for episode 39 of the BEES WITH BEN beekeeping podcast.
Waitika Farm is a honey farm in Wairuku, Rakiraki, Fiji, that is brimming with a magnificent array of aromatic herbs such as rosemary, thyme, oregano, mint, tarragon, basil varieties, and strawberries (loved by humans and bees alike!). As a business, the couple keep and maintain their own hives, harvest honey, as well as making bee-related goodies such as beeswax wraps, honey butter, lip balms, candles, among other products.
As Jean and her husband Anil’s farm has grown, that positive impact has grown too, flourishing into profits for the couple and their business. “It was trial and error all the way at the beginning but the deeper we got involved the more interesting and rewarding it became! Bees are incredibly smart creatures and we are very privileged to be able to work with them,” Jean told the Fiji Sun. This positive approach was completely evident when I visited the couple and their farm last year, just before COVID hit, and it infiltrates the way the couple run their business and deal with the challenges that come with an unpredictable environment, a pandemic and the usual trials of running a small business.
Tune in to hear Jean and I discuss daily life on Waitika Farm, the aggressive nature of bees in Fiji, what brought the couple to beekeeping, and some big challenges to their business (namely, Cyclone Winston) and how they overcome them.