A little about Honey Paihia
We have been beekeeping in Te Tai Tokerau, the Far North of Aotearoa, New Zealand, for nearly 20 years. Our apiaries are situated in the clean air of Waima, Whangaroa and nestled in some divinely special places around Paihia and the Bay of Islands where we live.
We are a small beekeeping business with a philosophy of treating our bees as part of our family, not an industrial operation with an endless growth mantra. We have small apiaries of around 16 colonies - this makes the sites easily manageable and prevents overstocking for the nectar sources within flying distance of our bees. We have permanent apiaries and very rarely move our hives.
We use minimal supplementary feed by ensuring that we leave more than enough honey stores to get our bees through the winter months. This reduces stress, for us as well as the bees, and provides quality food when it's most important.
What’s so special about mānuka honey?
Many people use high grade mānuka honey medicinally or as a daily tonic. There are dozens of scientific studies which have found mānuka honey to be particularly effective for certain conditions. New Zealand law prevents us from making therapeutic claims about mānuka honey as we sell the honey as a food product not a medicine, but a quick search for mānuka honey on PubMed is a great place to start to learn about its unique properties.
How do we collect and prepare our mānuka honey for market?
Mānuka is the local indigenous māori name for the Leptospermum scoparium tree. In the Far North, the mānuka tree has its main flowering months in October and November. Our bees collect the mānuka nectar to make honey during the flowering months. There’s a special ingredient that starts its life in the nectar of the mānuka flower at this time called dihydroxyacetone (DHA).
In late November and early December we harvest the first of the season's crop and have the mānuka honey extracted in Government certified extraction premises.
The mānuka honey is then stored in food-grade drums at registered storage facilities. The honey just sits there, and, after about a year, a completely natural change happens where the DHA that was in the honey develops into a compound called methylglyoxal (MGO) at about a ratio of 2:1. Other ingredients in the honey are the catalyst for this change as there is no other natural way to get DHA to become MGO without the bees doing the work.
MGO is the ultimate ingredient in mānuka honey that makes it so sought after. During the maturing process we test the honey at Analytica Laboratories in the New Zealand city of Hamilton. This testing process provides us with the level of MGO in milligrams per kilogram of honey - the number often shown on the front of mānuka honey labels. The testing also provides a forecast based on the level of DHA and tells us how high, and how long before the ultimate MGO level will be achieved.
The New Zealand government has set of strict regulations and standards that must be met if the honey is to be exported from our country. For mānuka honey to be pure enough to be legally classified as either "MULTIFLORAL MANUKA", or "MONOFLORAL MANUKA", and to have "mānuka" in the name, a series of 5 chemical marker tests, along with a Manuka DNA pollen test must be passed.
As a rough guide the higher MGO level, the higher the purity of the mānuka nectar. For export grade honey, MGO levels can range from around 100+ MGO for "MULTIFLORAL MANUKA", tipping into "MONOFLORAL MANUKA" from about 250+ MGO to 1200+ MGO and beyond.
Once the MGO level in our mānuka honey is near maturity we pot the honey up, again safely and hygenically at goverment registered premises.
Once potted up the delicious and top quality honey is now available to our loyal customers locally. We often sell to overseas visitors at our two stores in the world renowed seaside town of Paihia and, of course shipped to our loyal customers around the world.
How buying this honey helps save a forest
Honey Paihia have been supporting Bay Bush Action, a conservation trust operating in the forest surrounding Paihia, for over a decade. Over the years, Honey Paihia has donated time, money and honey to help Bay Bush Action protect the native birds, lizards and insects that live in the forest and we have seen a massive increase in native species as a result of this help.
C E Salmon