A taste of manuka honey and a taste of beekeeping in New Zealand
Having family in New Zealand allowed him to spend quite a few holidays there over the year. During his last visit in 2017 he had the chance to spend time understand the work around Manuka honey.
New Zeland has a lot of virgin hilly countryside, with dense vegetation where the land has not been transformed for pastures.
Apiaries are often located in the middle of grassland. Most of the New Zealand beestock are either strains of Apis mellifera mellifera (introduced in 1839), or Apis mellifera ligustica (introduced in 1880).
They have 6700 registered beekeepers, most are hobbyist (88%) and they have 5 hives in average . That is 4 times as many as in England for a big difference in population but they have see similar increase in the last few years as in the UK. They also have a much higher per capita consumption of honey with 1.5kg honey per year (UK; 0.6kg in 2007). Beekeepers favor langstrogh hives.
Local bees also suffer from Varroa infestation since is was introduced in 2000.
Chris had the opportunity to spend a day with a professional beekeeper… managing Foolbrood-diagnosed hives.
Manuka honey is not only sold as a very tasty honey but also as a medicinal product. It is claimed to have strong antioxidant properties – via a non peroxide antibacterial activity due to glucose oxidase enzymes. Chris has looked extensively into literature but despite a lot of research available and still going on, there is no strong proof as to the superior clinical effects of Manuka honey over another.
He also explained the difficulties around measuring that antibacterial activity, commonly described as the Unique Manuka Factor (UMF).
Chris concluded on the effects on the Manuka honey success worldwide. A “Manuka honey war” is going on. Theft, vandalism, reckless beekeeping behaviors and disputes over land access and hive homing are creating a lot of tension among the professional beekeepers.
Updates were made to Andrew’s lift share system.
Meeting in December :
Christmas social. £2.5 per person. Confirm attendance to any association committee members and bring a small desert.Updates made to Andrew’s lift share system.