Bees & Trees Journal

Articles, News, and Resources about Manuka Honey

Manuka honey could provide the key to a breakthrough treatment for cystic fibrosis patients following preliminary work by experts at Swansea University.  Dr Rowena Jenkins and Dr Aled Roberts have found that using Manuka honey could offer an antibiotic alternative to treat antimicrobial resistant respiratory infections, particularly deadly bacteria found in Cystic Fibrosis (CF) infections.

Read full article in Science Daily here.

Purchase Bees and Trees Manuka Honey here.


Until the early 1990s, Manuka honey was just a really nice honey produced from flowering native New Zealand trees.  That’s when Dr. Peter Molan of the Waikato University in New Zealand, through his research, discovered a very unique and special property of Manuka honey.  Dr. Molan was studying the health properties of honeys.  Normally these properties are attributed to a natural mild hydrogen peroxide formed by the enzyme glucose oxidase that bees add to nectar as they digest it and turn it into honey.

However, this "peroxide activity" is easily destroyed by exposure to fluids, heat and sunlight.  Dr. Molan discovered that Manuka honey had a different property, what he termed a "non-peroxide activity" (NPA), which was more potent and stable, opening up the possibility of a wide range of uses.  The term "Unique Manuka Factor," or UMF was coined (and trademarked) to describe this property which was originally based on its NPA test result.

Later, Professor Thomas Henle at the Technical University of Dresden in Germany set out to isolate what in Manuka honey was producing this more potent and stable antibacterial effect.  The compound, methylglyoxal (MG/MGO), was isolated as having a direct correlation to the NPA or UMF rating of Manuka honey.  NPA or UMF can be directly measured by observing the inhibition of growth of bacteria within honey samples.* As a practical matter, this test is seldom used today. Instead, MG/MGO is directly measured, and then the NPA or UMF value is correlated to the MG levels. In the case of the UMF grading system, there is also a verification that a threshold level of Leptosperin is present, and maximum level of Hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF) is not exceeded.

MG/MGO is directly measured in ppm or parts per million, typical Manuka honey sold at retail will have a MG concentration of 100 to 600ppm. NPA or UMF ratings typically range from 5+ to 15+.

For labeling purposes, MGO is trademarked by Manuka Health New Zealand Ltd.  The abbreviation MG is also used to represent methylglyoxal. UMF is registered and controlled by the UMF Honey Association (UMFHA).

For a more in-depth look at the unique characteristics of Manuka honey, you can read this article by Steve Howse, Analytica Laboratories, published in The “New Zealand Beekeeper.”  DHA and MGO: The Most Common Testing in Manuka Honey.

*In this video from 2014, the late Professor Peter Molan takes the viewer into his laboratory to show the special non-peroxide antibacterial activity of Manuka honey versus other honey.  Why you need the right sort of activity in Manuka honey 


If you want to avoid fake news, you have to know the source of the information.  Further, you have to determine whether or not the information that source is telling you is accurate or not.  Sometimes this takes a lot of effort just to discern between truth and fiction.  Determining if Manuka honey is real and from a trusted source based on facts is very similar.

You should never buy Manuka Honey without knowing anything about the company (the source) or if they are properly labeling the honey (the facts).  When it comes to buying Manuka honey, you really need to know what you’re getting or you could end up with a product that is not what you think it is, disappointed with the results, and paying too much for an inferior product. 

Evaluating the Manuka honey company (the source) can be a bit more subjective; similar to evaluating the source of a news story.  How much do you know about the company?  Are they transparent with their test results?  Where does their honey come from and do they have Country of Origin Certification?  What do they say about themselves on their website and their social channels?  What type of information do they share?  Do they seem authentic in the way they present themselves?  The answers to these questions will give you some facts and a feeling for the company to help you determine if they are a trustworthy source.

Now the facts.  The number one, biggest, most important question you should ask is – are they accurately indicating the amount of methylglyoxal (MG) on their label?  There are only two legitimate ways to label the amount of methylglyoxal (Manuka honey’s unique ingredient that makes it so potent) in a jar of Manuka honey.  But first, let’s talk about exactly what is methylglyoxal.

 Methylglyoxal Content

The value of active Manuka honey is based on the concentration levels of methylglyoxal (MG) contained in the honey.  Manuka honey has strong antibacterial properties that are unlike ordinary floral honeys, and scientists believe that MG is the primary factor that gives Manuka honey its uniqueness.  In 2008, Professor Thomas Henle at the Technical University of Dresden in Germany set out to isolate what it was in Manuka honey that was producing this antibacterial affect.  He isolated a compound called methylglyoxal (MG) and stated that his findings “clearly demonstrate that the pronounced antibacterial activity of New Zealand Manuka honey directly originates from MG.” (1)

Manuka honey is the ONLY honey in the world with meaningful levels of MG. The amount of MG in a Manuka honey determines its value.  If your honey has low levels (or no levels) of MG, it really shouldn't cost you more than any other table honey.

The Only 2 Legitimate Ways to Label Manuka Honey

You can put the actual concentration of MG on the jar.  MG concentrations in Manuka honey generally range from 100 to about 600.  There are values higher than 600 MG, but those honeys are rarer, and can be quite expensive.  When you look at a jar of Manuka honey rated this way, should say MG or MGO (both are abbreviations for methylglyoxal) in front of the numbers.  It has to have the actual letters M-G or M-G-O or it is not properly labeled and does not properly represent the amount of MG in the jar.

Another rating system used that you may be familiar with is the UMF scale.  UMF means “Unique Manuka Factor”, it is a term trademarked by the UMF Honey Association in New Zealand. (2)  UMF members test their honey for MG concentration, for Hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF), and Leptosperin. After confirming threshold levels of HMF and Leptosperin, the actual UMF rating simply corresponds to the MG content and ranges from 5-20 (see chart below).   Most brands that use the UMF scale will typically use an even number, such as, 5+ UMF, 10+ UMF, or 15+ UMF.

The MG or UMF number should be on the label; if it isn’t on the label, you don’t know what you are getting.  If you are a legitimate Manuka honey brand and you have honey with a meaningful concentration of MG, you put it on the label. Either by displaying the MG test result, or by using the UMF correlated rating number (provided threshold HMF and Leptosperin values are confirmed).  If you have a real Manuka honey, there is no reason not to properly label the jar.  There are, quite simply, no departures from this standard.



Manuka Honey Imposters

If you don't see actual MG or UMF ratings on the label, you need to be asking yourself "Why not?"  The answer is simple—they just don't have it.  The biggest offenders among the Manuka honey brands are those you would not suspect.  The jars say "Manuka Honey" all over the label, and many contain words like "Bio Active 15+" or "K Factor 16" that are intended to make you think they are UMF ratings, but in fact, they are nothing more than words and numbers on a page created by the company.  Some honeys will also mention other scientific/compound disclosures, including DHA.  While DHA is a precursor compound to MG, it cannot be correlated to the MG level and does not tell you the potency of the honey.  Putting DHA on the label is just another attempt to fool you.  The same can be said for disclosures about pollen count or pollen percentage—they aren't accepted standards for measuring the activity of Manuka honey.

Manuka Honey – Worth the Effort

Manuka honey’s host of synergistic properties make it one of Nature’s most potent superfoods and well worth the effort of understanding what is legitimate and what is not.  When looking at a Manuka honey product label, just be sure it has the actual MG level or a UMF rating.  Anything else can’t be trusted.

 If you still aren’t sure or you have a question not covered in this article, just ask us; we are happy to help.

100% Active Manuka Honey

At Bees & Trees Manuka Honey, we are on a mission to bring understanding and assurance to you as the consumer.  We put the MG content right on our jar.  We are happy to provide our independent lab test for each and every batch of honey that we produce showing the actual MG content.  These can always be found linked at the bottom of our product pages on our website.  We provide origin certification from Oritain, a global leader in preventing food fraud.

When you buy Bees & Trees Manuka honey, you can be confident that you're getting real, authentic Manuka honey. 

Click here to order a jar of Bees and Trees Manuka honey today.


Analytica is one of the two third-party testing laboratories in New Zealand that we use to test every batch of our honey.  With many years of experience in commercial testing, R&D, and leadership in science and technology they offer leading-edge services to the Manuka honey industry and others.

In this article, they explain the two constituents in Manuka honey that are above and beyond the hydrogen peroxide activity of other honeys.

"For centuries, honey has been known to have broad-spectrum antimicrobial properties and has been used to treat a variety of ailments. This medicinal value, which is exhibited by many types of honey, is believed to come from features such as honey’s acidity (low pH), high sugar concentration, and the presence of bacteriostatic and bactericidal compounds such as hydrogen peroxide, antioxidants, lysozyme, polyphenols, phenolic acids, flavonoids, and bee peptides. These features are sometimes collectively referred to as honey’s ‘peroxide’ activity.

Certain honeys derived from the New Zealand Manuka tree (Leptospermum scoparium) have additional antimicrobial activity, above and beyond what is contributed by the above features."

Click here to continue.





From time to time we receive questions from our customers.  We like to share these questions because it helps to educate and inform others who may have the same questions.  If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please feel free to reach out to us at any time.  


“I purchased your honey at a store in Connecticut today.  The jar says “Summer 2017” and it tastes grainy and gritty. I have had it before and it was smooth. What’s wrong?”

Not sure if part of your question is the year of the harvest, but I’ll cover that first.  All Manuka honey produced in New Zealand is “aged” for 12-24 months prior to packing.  The activity level of the honey, measured in MG (methylglyoxal) level, will continue to increase after harvest.  And so we patiently wait for nature to work its magic; that’s why we are currently selling our summer 2017 honey.

In terms of differences in texture from batch to batch, our honey is raw, hive to jar honey.  We don’t blend it to hit a certain activity level (most companies blend different MG levels to achieve a specific MG level), and we don’t cream it to try to achieve a certain consistency in the texture.  Creaming typically requires heating the honey to a level that we think risks damaging some of the natural goodness.  Our approach is to keep it as natural as possible, which will inherently cause differences batch to batch in texture and color.   We have had customers question some of the batches that they thought were too creamy wanting to know if they were actually raw and natural.  So variation in texture and color is normal and expected for our honey.  What nature provides, what the bees give us, is what we give you.

Kind Regards,

Mike, Bees & Trees Founder

November 26, 2018

There's never a dull moment when you are keeping bees!  Our little friends at the Toko School have some news to report.

Hive #4 lost it's queen and a few bees are swarming, but all in all things are looking good at the Toko School.  They've even included a video at the end of their blog post. :-)

You can read all the details here.



November 15, 2018

Honey has been known for its therapeutic properties since the time of ancient civilizations.   Modern scientists have been catching up with this time-honored knowledge in recent decades.  In a recent review of scientific research studies on Manuka honey, researchers looked at the properties of Manuka honey, its chemical composition with special reference to flavonoids, polyphenol, and other bioactive trace compounds used in carcinogenesis (the development of cancer), tissue regeneration, and other health benefitting functions.

The included studies they reviewed showed that Manuka honey can inhibit the process of carcinogenesis by controlling different molecular processes, and progression of cancer cells. Also, Manuka honey has been found to have various biological activities, including antioxidant, antimicrobial and anti-proliferative capacities.  Scientists have also tried to use Manuka honey in the area of tissue engineering to design a template for regeneration.

The big take away here is that in addition to bacterial growth inhibition, Manuka honey can enhance wound healing and tissue regeneration by its immunomodulatory properties, as well as have positive effect on cancer development and progression.

















November 1, 2018
Bees & Trees will be attending our second tradeshow!  We'll be exhibiting at the SENPA SOHO Expo!  SOHO is an acronym for "Showing Others Healthy Options."  This expo is a Natural Products Industry Trade Show and Convention.
If you are a retailer/reseller of fine foods, stop by and see us!
Booth #1036
December 1st (Saturday) & 2nd (Sunday)
Gaylord Palms Hotel and Convention Center
Kissimmee, Florida
You can find more information about the show here:

October 12, 2018

The children at the Toko School have split their hives! With Raul's help of course. ;-)

Read about all their work (and fun!) on their latest blog post here.

For our new readers - about a year ago, Bees & Trees donated bees and hives to the Toko School in New Zealand, and we have been following their learning through the entire process of beekeeping all the way to selling their honey!  It's been a lot of fun to follow.






September 21, 2018

According to Forbes, the typical American consumes 130 lbs. of sugar each year – that’s 22 teaspoons of sugar per day!  Between processed foods, bread, pasta, rice, soda, cookies, cakes, and so many more, sugars lurk everywhere in the average American diet.

Consuming all of that sugar causes a lot of problems, like diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, depression, acne, fatigue, and so much more.  And it’s not easy to control your sweet tooth; refined sugar can be as addictive to the brain as cocaine.

Sugar is bad news.  But not all sweeteners are created equal.  Even though both sugar and honey are classified as sweeteners, raw honey and sugar are nothing alike:

Honey contains many nutrients.  Refined sugars have generally been stripped of all their nutrients during processing.

  • Honey contains antioxidants.  In contrast, refined sugar has no antioxidant benefits and fuels inflammation.  
  • The active enzymes of raw honey make it much easier to absorb and digest than other sugars.  Refined sugar has no enzymes.
  • Honey has powerful germ-fighting properties. Sugar has none.
  • The glycemic index of honey is generally lower than table sugars, meaning it more gradually raises blood sugar levels.  Refined sugar spikes blood sugar levels immediately.
  • Raw honey comes straight from the hive and remains natural and unprocessed.  Refined sugar of any type has to go through many stages of chemical and manual processing.
  • Raw honey actually tastes slightly sweeter than refined sugar, meaning you need less of it to feel equally satisfied.

So, as you can see, the evidence is quite clear – honey is a healthier choice than sugar to use as a sweetener.  But, any sweetener should be consumed in far fewer quantities than the current average of 22 teaspoons of sugar per day!  A balanced diet that consists of lots of fruits and veggies is the way to go.

And since we’re talking about the benefits of honey, we’d be remiss not to mention the added benefits of Manuka honey.  Manuka honey has lots of health-boosting properties, including being antibacterial, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, and immune-stimulating to name a few.  One thing is for sure, Nature knows what it’s doing, and Manuka honey is one of Nature’s gifts. 

Bees & Trees Manuka honey is raw, hive-to-jar pure goodness.  And if you've compared prices, you know that our honey is a much better value than the big brands ounce for ounce.  You can get your own jar here.

If you ever have any questions, don't hesitate to ask us.  We're here to help.

-The Bees & Trees Team