The Wonderful World of Bees          
           

NZ Honey

New Zealand Honeys can be divided by both region and floral source. New Zealand's sharply differing regional climates, combined with the natural diversity of floral types, ensure that honeys are unique with subtle variations of flavour and aroma from region to region. 

Even New Zealand's family favourite, clover honey, is subtly different from region to region. 

More than 15 floral honey types are produced commercially in New Zealand. As well as these mono-floral varieties, beekeepers create interesting unique blends. This can be done by either placing hives in certain positions so that the honey bee combines nectars of different flowers, or blending honeys in the honey house. Honey Hive native honey is all mono-floral giving you the greatest taste. 

For many years honey was considered to be just that Ὴoney!῀ Because of the considerable differences in sensory attributes, this is no more appropriate than assuming all wines and cheeses taste and smell like each other. The differences between, for example, light, golden Nodding Thistle honey and thehighly thixotropic and pungent Manuka honey are so great that they could to all intents and purposes, be different products.

New Zealanders are the World's Greatest Honey Lovers

New Zealanders consume an estimated 1.95 kgs of honey per capita.

This contrasts with:

  • 0.9 kg Australia 0.6 kg USA
  • 0.2 kg Singapore 0.8 kg Canada
  • 0.5 kg UK 1.4 kg Germany

88% eat honey

71% believe honey is nutritionally better than sugar

84% believe honey is one of the most natural foods

Ancient cave drawings show that honey has been used as a food by man for at least 20,000 years. To many people, honey is just a sweet substance collected by bees. Honey is, however, a complex substance that varies appreciably in its composition. Honey starts out as a very thin, watery sugary fluid, known as nectar. Nectar is found in the nectaries of plants which are usually located in the base if the flowers. Nectar varies considerably in its sugar, protein, mineral and water content from one kind of plant to another.

In a honey bee’s quest for a single load of honey, she may visit anything from 500 to 1100 blossoms of a particular species of plant. In her lifetime the honey bee will fly approx 800 kilometres and produce just half a teaspoon of honey.  Inside the bee, the nectar is stored in a tiny compartment, known as the honey sac. This sac is like a little plastic bag fitted with a one way valve.

Stored enzymes and juices in the sac convert the sucrose (disaccharide) to more simple sugars (mono-saccharides). It is upon this conversion that nectar becomes known as honey, consisting mainly of two simple sugars, dextrose and levulose.
It takes approximately 2.5 million kilometres of flying by the bees in a hive to produce 1 litre of honey.

The “unripe honey”, as the honey in the honey bee’s sac is called, is passed by the honey bee to a worker bee at the hive. The “unripe honey” is dried by bees exposing it as a thin film to the warm dry currents in the hive.   When no more than 18-20% of water remains, the now “ripened honey” is sealed in a cell with a wax cap; where it is left to mature and finish its ripening process.

At this stage it can be harvested by the beekeeper or eaten by the bee colony as food.  Find out more about beekeeping...

 Borage  (Borago officinalis)

A biennial herb growing up to 1.5m in height, much branched. The flowers are round, bright blue and 2cm in diameter. The blooming period is November to March when the bees gather a fawn pollen.  The honey a yellowish grey tint. Found in the South Island it is usually found in clumps on flat country.

 

White Clover (Trifolium repens)

Clover honey is the mainstay of NZ beekeeping. The plant is an introduced perennial adapted to a wide variety of soils and conditions. Volcanic soil and swamp land induce exceptional plant development in Northland.  The main flow from clover may occur at any time from early December to early January according to locality and weather conditions. Clover pollen is a brownish shade of green, almost olive.

Kamahi (Weinmannia racemosa)

A round-headed tree up to 25m tall. The flowers are white and bloom from November to January, according to locality.  Kamahi trees are found as far north as Hokianga County and extends as far as Stewart Island.  The honey is a rich creamy colour.

Ling Heather (Calluna vulgaris)

This plant is variable from prostrate forms to bushy shrubs up to lm high and across. The small leafy shoots carry usually a purplish pink, produced through late spring and summer.

Large areas are established in New Zealand in high alpine or tussock country. This is a famous Scottish heather and is a heavy nectar producer in this country. The honey is reddish in colour and of pronounced flavour. The plants yield copious quantities of slate coloured pollen.

Manuka (Leptospermum scoparium)

There are 35 species of manuka found throughout most of NZ. Also known as red tea trees, although the flowers are white. It is from the red wood that it derives its name. Tea trees will secrete nectar under almost any conditions except during a period of cold winds.

Manuka honey varies a good deal both in flavour and consistency, being influenced apparently by soil types, weather conditions and the intensity of the honey flow. Manuka is a fair source of pollen of a muddy white colour.

Rata (Metrosideros robusta)

The Rata is a large forest tree sometimes exceeding 30m in height. The flowers are bright scarlet. The normal flowering period for North Auckland is October and November and December and January further south.

There are 12 species of rata. The honey produced from Rata is water white in colour, fine grained and of delicate distinctive flavour. It granulates very rapidly. This tree is not a heavy pollen producer, which is in colour creamy or dull white.

Rewa Rewa  (Knightia excelsa)

NZ Honeysuckle is a distinctive tree confined to the North Island and Marlborough Sounds. The honey is medium amber in colour, and has a slightly burnt medium flavour, difficult to mask when blended with other honeys.

It is heavy bodied and will not always freely leave the combs. The honey is slow to granulate and possesses a very coarse grain that is difficult to overcome. Rewa-Rewa pollen is light yellow.

Tawari (Lxerba brexioides)

A magnificent wide spreading evergreen tree up to 17m in height. The coarsely serrated leaves are thick and tough. The large waxy white flowers, 25mm or more across, are produced from October to the end of December. This tree is perhaps the most beautiful in the New Zealand bush. It yields heavily and is eagerly visited by bees.

The honey is a dull white in appearance, very sweet and mild flavoured. Extends from Whangaroa to Hawkes Bay.

Pohutakawa (Metrosideros excelsa)

A large and much branched coastal tree which reaches a maximum height of about 50m. The flowers a brilliant scarlet. In suitable seasons there is no finer source of nectar than the Pohutukawa, the bees working the blossoms from dawn until after dusk. Nectar secretion begins in late November.

The honey is water white when extracted, and granulates in a matter of days. Unless processed the grain is generally coarse.  The unique salty flavour of the honey is much appreciated.

Nodding Thistle (Carduus nutans)

Thistle Honey is both light coloured and flavoured honey that comes from the nodding thistle plant.  Although considered a weed, the thistle produces a lovely purple flower with high levels of nectar making it a favourite of the bees.

Honeydew

Honeydew is malty, earthy and sweet.  The black colour of the bees trees and plants with a honeydew source is due to the growth of a black sooty mould on the surplus nectar.

Beech honeydew is one or our darker honey types, as honey bees prefer to store honeys like this closer to the brood nest and typically in darker combs.

Penny Royal (Mentha pulegium)

Pennyroyal is a perennial creeping plant found both in gardens and pasture lands. The flowers are pale blue, crowded in bunches surrounds the stem at intervals.

The whole plant has a strong aromatic smell producing a minty flavoured honey. 

The Honey is strong in it’s flavour, is light to medium amber in colour.

Don’t forget to sample our delectable honeys on the tasting table.