What is raw honey?
Raw honey is honey that has not been heat-treated/pasteurised. The process of pasteurisation involves heating the honey to high temperatures (approximately 160°C). Supposedly this prevents the natural crystallisation process that occurs with honey over time and ensures the honey stays liquid, particularly in cooler weather. However it also destroys all the beneficial properties of the honey, which is why it's so important to ensure the honey you buy is raw.
My honey is solid or 'gritty' what should I do?
Your honey has naturally crystallised - fantastic! It means it's just as nature intended it to be and has not been ultra heat-treated. Have you been keeping it in the fridge? If so, move it to the pantry ensuring it's kept in a relatively dark corner. The best way to keep your honey at the perfect consistency is to keep it in the hot water cupboard. Alternatively you can stand it in a bowl of warm (never boiling) water until it returns to a more liquid state. And please, what ever you do, don't be tempted to nuke it in the microwave - you'll kill all the good stuff!
Where does your honey come from?
The majority of bees forage in the naturally diverse surrounds of Omahuta Forrest, Northland. Thousands of hectares of pristine native bush produce some of the most delicious honey around (and yes, we're biased!), free from urban and industrial
contaminants, horticultural sprays and other pollutants. You can find out more about this stunning ecological treasure and our relationship with it here
. We also partner with other private landowners from the Far North down to the Manawatu to produce various grades of Manuka Honey.
You say your honey is 'unblended' what does this mean?
Some larger producers and/or packagers of honey (we won't mention any names) take batches of honey from various beekeepers and locations and mix it all up together before bottling it all as one batch. Whilst doing this provides them with a much greater volume, it can result in a mishmash of flavours. Our honey is never blended with other honeys from different locations, which means the natural flavour profile of where the hives are located comes through. It is truly a taste of the forest!
Do you test for Tutin and 1080?
We ensure that every batch, regardless of the harvest date, is tested for Tutin residue. Each batch is tested individually and test results are available on request.
We don't currently have any hives situated in a 1080 drop zone, if that were to change then yes, we would look to test for 1080 residue. However this would be unlikely as sweet baits are no longer used and it's only wasps that feed on carcasses as they are meat-eaters, bees are not. Although wasps (particularly the Waikato or German wasps) can sometimes be mistaken for bees from a distance.
I've heard that some beekeepers feed sugar syrup? Do you?
The feeding of sugar syrup is indeed a contentious issue and we understand your concern. We endeavour to leave as much honey on the hive as the bees will need to survive winter. The bees naturally form a small cluster and the queen slows down laying eggs or can stop entirely during the winter months (the boys [drones] are also kicked out of the hive - harsh but fair, as they don't pull their weight and leave all the foraging up to the ladies!). This means the number of hungry mouths is reduced considerably so leaving large amounts of honey on the hives is unnecessary and can in fact encourage robbing of weaker hives by stronger hives.
Come late winter/early spring when food supplies are waning and the early nectar producing plants aren't quite ready to release their goodness in full, it can be necessary to supplement their food supply with sugar syrup fortified with Apple Cider Vinegar. This ensures that the queen starts laying again and the numbers within the hive increase substantially.
A sharp increase in colony size has two main benefits, firstly so that there is a large number of foraging bees ready to head out to work as soon as the nectar flow starts properly, AND it helps the hive defend themselves from predators such as wasps who are also coming out of their winter slumber. A large colony can defend itself much better than a small one. Plus, ensuring supplementary feed is available during leaner times also helps to prevent the robbing mentioned above.
So whilst the short answer is yes, we do feed sugar syrup when necessary, it's important to be aware that we ensure sugar syrup is never the bees' ONLY source of food by stripping out all their honey stores prior to winter - which is just a bit mean and not very healthy for them. And it's in our best interests to have strong, healthy bees that are well-equipped to survive the winter.
Lastly and possibly most importantly, we NEVER feed sugar syrup when honey boxes are on a hive, so you can be assured your honey is indeed honey. We also have to undertake a special sugar screening test on all our honey batches, and test results can be provided on request.
Do you clip the wings of your Queen Bees?
NO! Never have and never will. Some beekeepers do this in an effort to prevent swarming, but it's something we feel is cruel and unnecessary. Thankfully most beekeepers in New Zealand also feel the same way.
I thought only UMF® honey was authentic Mānuka Honey?
UMF® is a registered trademark. It is a made up acronym that stands for Unique Mānuka Factor. This is equivalent to the NPA (non-peroxide activity) of the honey and is calculated in a laboratory based on the concentration of methylglyoxal present. There are two approved ways to convey the varying levels of Manuka Honey through a grading system: MGO (non-trade marked) and UMF® (trademarked) even though UMF® is exactly the same as NPA, MPI/Food Safety have recently prohibited the use of 'NPA' on honey products produced and packaged and labelled in NZ. Companies can either state the level of methylglyoxal MGO (xxxg/kg) present in the honey or subscribe to the UMFHA at a significant cost plus a royalty paid on each product sold - making it far out of reach of many small-scale producers such as ourselves.
All producers, whether UMF® members or not, have to go through the same rigorous testing procedures and follow the same government imposed rules and regulations. The main difference is when sending off to the lab for the test results, we either tick a box that says "send me my results as UMF®" or "send me my results as NPA". Those that are UMF Honey Association members can put the NPA value on their packaging under the trademarked UMF® rating. Those that aren't can display the MGO content instead. In broad terms, the honey itself is no different. The paper trail back to the honey's source and the results of the tests, must exist regardless. So in order to keep our prices as affordable as possible, we have chosen to grade our honey using MGO.
Problems arise when NZ Mānuka honey is exported in bulk and packaged off shore. We can't control what happens to the honey after it leaves our shores. It could be blended with other inferior honeys or have certain compounds added to artificially increase the activity rating. Also, even though Mānuka Honey will never go off per se, it does have a life cycle, so if it sits on a shelf for too long the 'activity' will start to decline, even though it will last a lifetime in perfect condition (except for crystallisation which is a natural process in RAW honey). Please, always check that the honey you are buying is produced and packaged in New Zealand and where possible support your local beekeeper.
Why is Mānuka Honey so much more expensive than other honeys?
Honey in general has been increasing in price as the costs to adhere to industry requirements increase. This includes the additional testing, paperwork, reporting and auditing that honey producers have to go through in order to legally produce, package and sell the product. Not to mention the long hours and dedication required to maintain happy, healthy productive bees.
Yes, there is a significant price difference between Mānuka and non-Mānuka honeys and that is because scientific studies have been conducted proving that Mānuka honey can curb the activity and growth of bacteria at rates that outweigh other honeys, making it a more desirable product (here is a summary
of one of many). Additional testing is required to ensure M
nuka honey is the real deal, so this also adds to the cost. Plus, M
nuka honey sites are of more value therefore the price beekeepers pay to place hives near M
nuka nectar sources are higher too.
I'm keen to get into beekeeping, but I'm not sure where to start.
Can you help?
Beekeeping is an incredibly interesting past time, which can quickly become an all-consuming passion. But, it can also be expensive, so make sure you do lots of research on what you'll need and how much things will cost, both at the outset and ongoing, before you take the plunge. And, it can be time consuming, not just looking after the bees themselves, but ensuring you are compliant with all the regulations that are in place to help prevent the spread of disease. There is often more to keeping bees than people realise.
Before you do anything, download our helpful guide for new beekeepers here
Why do you only sell your honey in bulk?
By buying direct from us, the beekeepers, you're able to buy your honey in larger quantities at a reduced 'bulk' price. By selling in bulk it also cuts down on packaging and reduces the need for more frequent customer re-ordering.
Why do you sell your honey in metal pails? Won't it taste funny?
We strongly believe in the reduction of plastic use where ever possible. Hence we prefer to invest in glass jars and metal pails rather than plastic jars and buckets.
Our food-grade pails are gold lacquered on the inside and can be re-used long after the last drop of honey has been licked clean. Honey generally always comes in to contact with metal at some stage of its life, as it is stored in large metal drums after being extracted and prior to being packaged, so continuing to store it in food grade metal pails does not taint it, plus there's no chance of plastic leeching harmful chemicals into it.
And in all honesty, we just don't like plastic!
You'll also notice that when we ship your items to you, there will be no plastic packaging. We use cardboard boxes, paper wadding, paper tape and paper labels. We also choose not to include a packing slip as this only adds to paper/ink consumption. So if you find anything amiss with your order, please don't hesitate to contact us.
Do you artificially inseminate your queens?
No! There is mixed evidence regarding the success of artificially inseminating queen bees. We take a far more natural approach to queen rearing. In most instances we allow the colonies to rear their own queens (under close monitoring), rather than relying on human intervention. After all, the bees are the experts! We let them choose the perfect eggs to feed royal jelly to and only get involved if we feel particularly small cells would not produce effective queens, or if there are a number of 'swarm cells' produced within a hive - both of which need to be removed.
Do you sell queen cells, or virgin/mated queens?
Currently the only queens we sell are the ones specifically bred for our beehive sales. Breeding quality queens on a large scale requires significant time and dedication that we simply don't have at the moment being such a small team. As our business expands and our team grows, we hope to offer queens and queen cells as part of our product offering in the future, however there are a number of other specialty queen rearers located all across the country who are better equipped to deal with the demand.
The product I wish to buy is out of stock.
Can I find out when it will be available again?
We never have huge volumes of honey, beeswax or hives available for purchase, mainly because there is a limit to the number of hives we are able to place in the forest. Honey production varies from season to season based on weather and nectar volumes produced by the plants.
Also, each hive is created by hand and inspected for quality prior to making it available to its new carers. You may see videos circulating online of large scale hive producers overseas using mechanical methods to create new hives, you can be assured our methods are nothing like theirs!
If a product is out of stock you will be able to register your email address in the product description area to be notified when it is available again.
We take pre-orders for beehives and NUCs and provide an indicative time-frame for order fulfilment. However, as with anything to do with nature, things can change due to weather and other factors beyond our control. Beehives and NUCs are made available for their new homes in the sequence orders are received, so if you need your beehive(s) within a certain time-fame or before a certain date please get in early and contact us with your specific requirements.
Have another question(s)? Contact us below and we'll be happy to answer.