Articles, News, and Resources about Manuka Honey
Summer is finally arriving in Taranaki New Zealand, after a wet and very cold spring. We are flying hives into our remote Manuka Honey sites this week, the trees are bursting with buds, and flowers are starting to show. After a disappointing flowering across New Zealand last season, so far this year is shaping up to be pretty good. Hives are flown into areas were it would be un-economical to create and maintain roads or “tracks” as they are called. Operations start at first light, our pilot is highly skilled and knows this “back country” extremely well. In this picture, you can see a pallet, which contains 4 hives arriving at the Manuka site. The opening to the hives is temporarily blocked for transportation with a piece of foam that we remove upon arrival at the site. The stabilization fin just above the pallet helps keep the load from spinning in flight as a cube is not very aerodynamic. On a good day (like this morning), we can fly 150-200 hives into their sites. It is an exciting time for us, all of the promise and hope for a good season, the renewal of the native forests all around you as spring gives way to summer. Taranaki in the Summer is magic, and so is the honey our bees produce. Now You know where Your honey comes from.
Why do honey bees swarm? They’re not angry, hungry, scared or bored. Swarming is a natural event in the life of a bee colony and occurs in the springtime, when food sources are readily available and the bee numbers are rapidly increasing. It’s a good sign, indicating that the hive is strong enough to split. The old queen and about two-thirds of the bees leave the old hive behind to search for a new home. Prior to leaving the old hive, they will make several new queen cells, so a new queen will be born and take over the remaining hive. Commercially, we try to avoid bee swarms, as we need all of the hives at full strength going into the Manuka Honey season. We minimize swarms by removing frames of brood (bee eggs and larva) from the stronger hives, and moving them to the weaker ones. However, as this video shows, sometimes the bees get ahead of the beekeeper. In this case, the old queen landed on top of the beekeeper’s head, so the rest of the swarm followed! October is springtime in Taranaki, New Zealand, and our beekeepers are busy with swarm control and generally gearing up for the season. Bees & Trees Manuka honey is produced in small batches from hive to jar. Know where your honey comes from.
Manuka honey is expensive, and here at Bees & Trees, we think it’s important that you know that you’re getting real New Zealand Manuka Honey. As we strive for complete transparency in an opaque industry, our glass jar is just the start. We provide our customers with complete information about our honey. We pack hive-to-jar, so each production batch can be tracked back to a specific area where the honey was harvested. We hired Oritain, specialists in food fraud protection, to certify the origin of each batch of honey we pack. By obtaining soil samples from our cropping areas, Oritain develops a chemical fingerprint which is matched to the honey samples we send them each season. The large packers who blend honey from across New Zealand can’t provide this assurance of origin.
Manuka honey with your Cheese & Crackers? You bet - a great way to entertain.
I often get the question “How do you enjoy your Manuka honey?”. While I always enjoy Manuka Honey in a cup of tea, or on my morning toast, I wanted to share some of the more creative ways we’ve used our Bees & Trees Manuka Honey while cooking and entertaining. Starting with Mini Stoned Wheat Thins cracker as a base, we put a small slice of white cheddar cheese on top. Our local Whole Foods stocks a New Zealand Grass Fed Cheddar that works great, and it completes the NZ theme, but I think any white cheddar would work fine. Lastly, we put a small serving of Manuka Honey on top of the cheese. The combination of flavors is great, something we would not have thought about if our friends had not put us onto it. We find it a great way to introduce friends to the great taste, and wonderful properties of Manuka Honey when we are entertaining.
Bees & Trees Honey is committed to sustainable development in the community where we produce our honey. We recently helped Native Forest Restoration Trust (a conservation trust located in our neck of the woods) purchase property which will be managed for long term restoration of the native ecosystems. In addition to providing a great place for us to locate our beehives to produce Manuka Honey, this land will provide important wildlife habitat and other important environmental services.
The following is taken from their recent Facebook post just after they closed on the purchase of this land:
"Great news, settlement is now complete and our Omoana Bush reserve has just been extended by a further 226ha, taking it to 560ha!
Omoana Bush, and this area as a whole, has been identified by the Taranaki Regional Council as a Key Native Ecosystem (KNE) due to its high indigenous biodiversity values. This means that the ‘Omoana Bush’ KNE contains regionally significant ecosystems and species.
This purchase wouldn't have been possible without the ongoing support and generosity of our supporters. A special thank you goes out to local beekeeper Mike Everly, Bees & Trees Manuka Honey, for bringing the property to our attention and exploring partnership options. Mike's involvement provided the catalyst and much needed financial support for the purchase to proceed.
Omoana Bush is located 35km east of Eltham, towards the Matemateonga Ranges; a head catchment of the Patea River. More information on Omoana Bush can be found here: http://www.nfrt.org.nz/reserve/omoana-bush"
Nature’s bounty is plentiful in New Zealand’s native forests. The Manuka trees have finished a short flowering season this year in Taranaki. At this time of year, many beekeepers are scrambling to move their hives, harvest honey, and start feeding sugar syrup to the bees. At Bees & Trees, we take a more natural approach. Many of our hives have direct access to the richly diverse native New Zealand forest, in addition to the flowering Manuka trees. So as our bees are drying and aging the Manuka crop in the hives, they continue to forage and feed on natural nectar from native flowers such as the White Rata pictured here. In this way, we are working with nature to provide a more balanced, natural diet to maintain strong, healthy hives. Better beekeeping, healthier bees, a careful harvest, and extraction in our Taranaki facility all result in the highest quality Manuka Honey available anywhere. At Bees & Trees Manuka Honey, we make sure you know where your honey comes from because we know you care.
Fresh Manuka nectar is flowing into our hives in Taranaki! The weather has been brilliant of late, and the bees are responding by collecting and storing this beautiful bounty of nature in our hives. As the bees turn this fresh nectar to honey, they will fill the combs, dry the honey by fanning their wings, and then cap each comb with an airtight wax seal. A few weeks from now, we will carefully extract this honey in our state-of-the-art extraction facility just down the road. It will then go into one of our glass jars to be aged for you to enjoy. Next stop, your pantry. That’s right, no blending, no heating, no pasteurization, no whipping or creaming. Just pure, natural, raw hive-to-jar honey. Independently tested for activity level, independently verified for place of origin - honey you can trust.
Manuka honey can be expensive - so know what you are buying!
Manuka honey is a scarce resource, produced only from New Zealand, supplying a growing worldwide market. Increased production costs, coupled with supply/demand dynamics, have been pushing retail prices up over the past several years. Buying smart is complicated by three fundamental factors: activity level, activity rating scale and packaging size. Activity level and rating scale are by far the most important determinations of cost per gram or cost per ounce for Manuka honey. High activity Manuka honey can retail for 5 times the price of a low activity Manuka honey. In this regard, understanding the rating activity scale is crucial to knowing what you are paying for. New Zealand law now dictates that producers must either use the actual lab tested result of Methylglyoxal (MG) in mg/kg, or the equivalent Unique Manuka Factor (UMF) scale. UMF is derived directly from the MG rating. For example, our 480+ honey equates to 14.4 on the UMF scale. Most Manuka producers sell their product in either 250g or 500g plastic containers. Our Bees & Trees Manuka honey is delivered in a 380g glass jar. Our direct "hive to jar" approach also results in a product that our customers tell us is superior to other brands. We sell directly to you, the consumer, by-passing layers of distribution and retail markup, at a cost that is 33%-50% cheaper than competitive products. Be an informed consumer and buy better honey at a better price.
Bee activity is building to a frenetic pace as spring gives way to summer in Taranaki NZ. Weather conditions so far have been reasonably good, with some nice hot days but still somewhat cold nights. Reports from the field show the Manuka trees are just coming into flower. In this picture, our beekeepers are adding boxes to these hives to ready them for Manuka honey production as the spring nectar flows tail off and we begin to see Manuka honey coming in. The queen bee uses the amount of nectar coming into the hive as her key signal to regulate egg-laying. With good flow, she will increase to laying up to 2,000 eggs each day. These eggs will become the foraging bees for mid to late summer as the worker bees only live approximately 6 weeks during this time of the year. We’ve done all we can to be in a good position to get a Manuka honey crop. The results will ultimately be determined by the weather and the flowering of the trees. Watch this space for updates as the season unfolds through January & February. Manuka honey that is independently certified as to origin and bioactivity level. Honey you can trust.