Local Honey; A jar of love from nature's garden
WHAT IS THE BENEFIT OF LOCAL HONEY?
Our Honey Bees in NZ (Apis Mellifera) fly from one flower to another to gather nectar or pollen for the hive. The pollen is the protein source for the bees along with fatty acids, vitamins and minerals and the nectar is the carbohydrate. The nectar is dehydrated by the bees before it is then stored in the cells and capped off as honey. It does not ferment because the water content is low.
The pollen gathered from the flowers is carried on the back legs of the bee after she has carefully collected it and packed it for the journey back to the hive. In the process of collecting pollen and nectar the bees get pollen spores on their bodies as well. Pollen spores are transferred to the honey in the activity of the hive while they are making and storing their food sources of honey and pollen. The bees collect from a variety of flowers and this is what gives the enormous array of pollen types in the honey.
It is said that Eating that honey — just a spoonful a day — can build up immunity through gradual exposure to the local allergens that can make life so miserable for allergy sufferers.
WHAT IS RAW HONEY?
Raw honey is honey that hasn't been heated or pasteurized, and it contains natural vitamins, enzymes, powerful antioxidants, and other important nutrients. ... Raw, local honey also contains that blend of local pollen.
You will see some honey sold which is of a particular type. For example Mānuka, Rewarewa, clover etc. This is achieved by having the beehives in locations where there is very little else available and so they collect that one sort of nectar.
HOW THE BEES ARE CARED FOR
I am very aware that the bees I have the privilege of caring for, are livestock and should be treated with care and respect. I do not use the processes that the commercial beekeepers tend to use like blowing the bees off the frames when they harvest. The bees I care for leave the honey frames through an ‘escape board’ where they are able to leave over a few days but not able to get back in. My bee hives are not loaded onto the back of trucks, piled high and shifted around the country to follow the flowering. Therefore, the bees do not get stressed in that way and instead have sunny permanent hive sites with hundreds of acres of NZ native bush, pasture and local gardens to forage in around Mount Ngongotaha. As forager bees will travel up to 3 km’s there is huge variety in what they collect and it varies at different times of the year. Our honey jars are varying colours depending upon what plants and trees the bees have been collecting from when they made it resulting in each box of honey being unique.
We all have to treat for the varroa mite in New Zealand in order to keep the hive healthy and alive. If we don’t, they die. I use variety of approved products only when required and only at times of the year when the bees are not making honey which will be collected.
HOW TO HELP YOUR LOCAL BEES
Next time you look at a teaspoon of honey, think about the honeybees that collected it for you and where they came from. The best way to support our local bees is to plant bee friendly plants and avoid using any pesticides or poisons. Never spray poisons on flowering plants, trees or weeds as this kills bees and can wipe out a hive.