Hello Honey Lovers, it’s been a while since we’ve given you an update on what we’ve been doing at Avatar, as we’ve been head down, sting up working tirelessly to get the most out of the honey season. Now as it draws to a close, we can relax a bit…and give you some insights into what happened during the season.
Firstly we have had a good season, much better than our last one. The weather was almost perfect, albeit a little dry and hot! (Spare a thought for our beekeepers who endured day after day of working in 30+ degree temperatures).
The hives came through spring very strong; the manuka flower also came on strong at lower altitudes.
Many manuka trees looked like snow had fallen on them; such was the brilliant intensity of the manuka blossom. On a still day, all you could hear was the dull hum of the bee’s feverously working from flower to flower.
At higher altitudes, the manuka flowering always occurs later and it didn’t last as long as in some previous seasons. A bit more rain in November and the first half of December would have helped prolong it. But importantly, we ended up with a good crop and look forward to maturing our honey over the coming months then repacking it for you to enjoy. Now we are preparing the hives for winter, by measuring varroa mite levels and making sure the hives have enough honey stores to get them through winter, boosting or merging weak or queen-less hives and tidying up their little homes by replacing any broken wood ware, making sure they are located in sunny spots that get a reasonable amount of winter sun, their hive entrances slightly elevated off the ground. (Bee’s like a sunny and warm, draught free house just like we do!). Wasps are becoming more frequent in Autumn and these pests can invade and rob bee colonies too.
The Ministry of Primary Industries has finalised its new manuka definition and the limits of key markers that need to be in a honey for it to qualify and be labeled as manuka honey. The definition came into effect on 5 February 2018. Many in the NZ honey industry were not supportive of MPI’s definition fearing it may prohibit the classification of lower end honey as manuka.
At Avatar, we believe the government had to do something and put a line in the sand, but also believe there is a big variance in the quality of manuka honey that will pass MPI’s test as monofloral. We believe the MQS quality rating system Avatar uses, accurately segments and represents the different quality levels within the monofloral manuka honey classification.
There remains a loop hole to MPI’s definition, where honey marketers can export bulk honey to get it outside MPI’s jurisdiction and have it packed overseas still calling it manuka. This is unfortunate and we urge anyone wanting to buy manuka honey outside NZ, to make sure it has been packed in NZ, as all Avatar honey is.
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