Life's sweet for Kiwi honey

Bee experts say the hot and largely dry summer we're experiencing is a real boon for New Zealand's honey industry.

"A very long, hot, dry summer is fantastic for bees, they collect a lot of honey," Mother Earth's Master Beekeeper Rick Haddrell told Newshub.

Rick's passion began as a hobby, with just three beehives.  Today, that's grown to 6,000 hives, located at different locations across the North Island.  

The honey's flavour tells you where it's from

Just like the different varieties of New Zealand wines to treat our tastebuds, varietals of honey are much the same.   It's true of the different tastes honey can produce too.

Gathering and creating mouth-watering honey blends can be likened to the art of fine wines.

 "The rewarewa trees grow in the native bush and they flower quite early - usually November/December.  When it flowers, the bees can collect a huge amount of honey," Rick explains.

The industrious insects can gather up to 60 kilograms, around three or four boxes of honey in a short time.

A sweet photo of delicious honey. Feeling hungry?
A sweet photo of delicious honey. Feeling hungry? Photo credit: Newshub

Sweet facts:

  • It takes 500 honey bees four weeks to make one kilogram of honey.
  • Bush honeys include manuka, rewarewa, tawari and kāmahi, while pasture honeys come from wild flowers including clover.
  • A Queen bee only mates one time in her life on her maiden flight. 
  • UMF means Unique Manuka Factor and is expressed numerically, UMF 5+, 10+ etc. It is a quality mark and basically means that the manuka honey you buy has been certified.

It's all about creating mouth-watering honey creations for Mother Earth's Master blender Joel Perry, whose job it is to create the consistent flavours and blends that make its products so popular.

For example its Native Bush Honey is a blend of honey from rewarewa, kāmahi and tawari tree flowers giving hints of caramel and toffee.

"With the rewarewa, it’s a really strong flavour, really caramelly.  The kāmahi is a lot stronger-tasting, but it’s a lighter grade of honey.  With all those mixed together, it's a really nice blend, whereas your clovers and pasture types, they're quite light, but also very sweet," Joel explains to Newshub.

Mother Earth's range covers all popular types of honey.
Mother Earth's range covers all popular types of honey. Photo credit: Newshub

Joel's job is highly specialised.  "There's not a lot of people in the industry that do this job, so I'm one of the few," he adds.

The bee enthusiasts are sure there’s plenty more good weather in this warm season to make honey while the sun shines.

"New Zealand is a beautiful place to keep bees," Rick says.

This story was created for Mother Earth to tempt Kiwis to try its great food with minimal processing. That’s nature at its most delicious.