Noelani Waters & Sarah Smuts-Kennedy

Comvita has announced a major partnership with social enterprise, For The Love of Bees (FTLOB), which will see the two organisations working together to protect these vital pollinators and the natural ecosystems they live in.

Since its establishment in 1974, Comvita has been guided by its founding principle of Kaitiakitanga, or guardianship and protection over nature – building on co-founders Claude Stratford and Alan Bougen’s passion for connecting people to nature, while caring for the environment.

This purpose is one shared by FTLOB, which started in 2016 as an Auckland-wide social sculpture initiative by artist Sarah Smuts-Kennedy and has since evolved into a non-profit movement advocating for bee-welfare through its regenerative organic horticultural community and educational projects.

Under the new partnership, the first tranche of activity will include the establishment of Comvita-led beekeeping operations across three existing FTLOB sites in Auckland, and ongoing collaboration with local beekeepers to ensure bee health in those communities.

Comvita has also dedicated extensive funding to support the expansion of FTLOB’s operations throughout New Zealand, especially in Auckland and Paengaroa, where Comvita’s main site is located.

Group CEO of Comvita, David Banfield, says: “We’re aiming to create a movement that enables bees and people to thrive in harmony. This new partnership with For The Love of Bees is an important step in bringing that movement to life, by working with like-minded communities of bee advocates – supporting them in their efforts to produce tangible, on the ground results.

“With New Zealand Aotearoa’s bee populations under threat as a result of factors such as habitat loss, pesticides, and disease, it’s our role as global leaders in the Mānuka honey sector to do all we can to protect our friends, the bees, and support our pollinators in keeping the planet healthy and flourishing,” adds Banfield.

FTLOB’s Vision Holder and Trustee, Sarah Smuts-Kennedy, describes the partnership as especially timely given the difficult circumstances COVID-19 had created for organisations like FTLOB.

“The support from Comvita comes at the perfect time and will help us to support our community of urban farmers and scale out across the country. Our Biology-First farming concepts are proven, and our Earthworkers Programme is creating a network of changemakers across New Zealand. Comvita shares our goals of creating a world of difference focused on restoring the environment, while advocating for bee welfare and climate change first and foremost,” concludes Smuts-Kennedy.

FTLOB has already garnered significant attention for their work in the sustainability space. Smuts-Kennedy received a Sustainable Superstar Award commendation at the New Zealand Sustainable Business Awards 2020, and she and FTLOB lead farmer Levi Brindson-Hall were named ‘Change Makers’ in the same year by Viva.

Did you know?

Comvita is a global market leader in Mānuka honey and was founded with a purpose to heal and protect the world through the natural power of the hive. With a team of 500+ people globally, united with more than 1.6 billion bees, they are the global market leader in Mānuka honey and bee consumer goods. Comvita has pledged to be carbon neutral by 2025 and carbon positive by 2030, and is planting more than two million native trees every year. Comvita has operations in Australia, China, North America, South East Asia, Europe and New Zealand.

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