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Grower Profile: An Insight to an Apiarist

An Overview:BRIDGE.JPG

Our raw honey is sourced from a small group of apiarists in the south island of New Zealand who are committed to producing high quality honey. At a time when there is concern over the diminishing bee population, we are proud to work with such careful and considerate experts. We know all of our suppliers personally - we can name the person who supplied each jar-full - and this close relationship works well for us. Our apiarists are always keen to talk through the details with us, helping us find the best batches, and as a result our customers can trace their honey back to the hive.

One of Our Growers:

A passsionate advocate of organic farming and production and one of the true charatcers of the New Zealand business industry, Gary has 60 years of bee keeping experience, including an Apicultural Cadetship from Canterbury College and 5 years researching clover and brassica pollination, insecticides and pollen analysis of honey. At University he read Zoology, Botany, Chemistry and Physics. Aged 75, he still walks the bush to check his hives and modestly claims that he still has more to learn from the bees.

The Apiary:

Now in his 75th year, Gary owns and operates his apiary or 800 hives in equal partnership will his son and daughter on the West Coast. It is a region that attracts both international visitors and locals alike to the spectacular scenery which features dramatic coastlines, lush natural bush and rainforest, crystal clear rivers and lakes and snowcapped mountains and glaciers. Here the pace of life is alot slower and more relaxed than anywhere else in New Zealand.

With a rich industry of coal mining, gold and jade prospecting, forestry and fishing; 'West Coasters' have a reputation for self reliance and enterprising thinking.

Small is Good:

Rainforest Honey and Manuka Honey production doesn't reach huge volumes in this area. However, what is produced in this beautiful and unspoiled countryside, is of excellent quality and purity. In fact, it is the remotness that discourages other beekeepers from operating there and also acts as a natural barrier to disease.

GARY.JPGIn the beginning...

"Originally Manuka Honey was looked down upon as it was hard to extratct and was considered only suitable to be used as feed honey. In those days i was laughed at by other bee keepers when I announced that one day manuka Honey would be recognized for its true worth", laughs Gary.

Distinctive Taste:

Manuka Honey is light amber in colour and darkens rapidly and tends to take on a sharper taste when heated- something Gary avoids at all costs. Good quality Manuka honey will trap air bubbles in it, which helps to create a jelly like consistency. 

Nothing is Taken for Granted:

Manuka flowers every year from early December to late January, but the amount of activity of the honey varies. Fine, settled weather is best during this perios to ensure a good crop. Honey production depends on a number of factors. It's important to get the hives to maximim strength just as the honey flow starts witht the flowering of the Manuka. Swarming should be avoided at this time as it reduces the bee strength. Witht he increasing conversion of both areas of natural native Manuka scrub into dailty farm pasture, good honey-producing manuka sites are becoming scarce. "We need to find sheltered sites to reduce the loss of bees due to wind disturbance."

Personal Proof:

Gary is no stranger to the healing properties of Manuka Honey "I have tried it on dry burns and it definitely stops blistering. I have seen it act on cut fingers from a saw bench accident  and the fingers basically grew new skin over the cuts in just a few days." His son in law also agrees, "Gary sent me some to the hospital I used to work at, where the honey was used as a treatment. One patient suffering from a throat infection was not responding to the normal range of antibiotics. The only course left was a treatment, which cost NZ$1,000 a day, for a period of 5 days, but with side affects that included kidney and liver damage. The doctor in charge prescribed Manuka honey before administering the final antibiotic treatment. The patient was given a teaspoon full every three hours and he went home cured in three days!" FLOWER.JPG

The Biggest Buzz:

And even after all that time, Gary is still as enthusiatic as ever. "I think I would keep bees  even if not expecting an income as they are always interesting. I suppose you could call it a lifestyle choice. Every day you always see something different in their behaviour because of the weather and which type of flowers are in bloom at the time. Every single hive reacts differently too", reflects Gary. 

So you can see that one of our main apiarists has an ardent love for his job and for his bees. As stated above, it is not just about economical return as is the case of some honeys; it is about the welfare of the bees and sustaining and protecting the environment in which they live.

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