Wild Cape Honey manage 2700 hives throughout the Eastcape region. Over winter hives are placed in warm sheltered valleys around the Gisborne and Tolaga Bay districts. These areas provide the diverse floral sources needed in spring to allow the hives to rapidly build the bee population needed to gather a good honey surplus. A hive will normally winter with about 10000 bees but needs 40000 to 50000 to gather a good honey surplus. As a bee only lives for 6 to 8 weeks the queen needs to lay tens of thousands of eggs and the bees feed and nurture the eggs to provide strong worker bees. During this period Wild Cape Honey replace any queens whose egg laying ability is diminishing and ensure hives have plenty of honey and pollen to feed their larvae.
As the Manuka forests begin to flower Wild Cape Honey take the bees to gather the prized nectar. They select Manuka forests that will yield Unique Manuka factor honey UMF® (not all Manuka forests yield honeys with these special properties).
Once on their Manuka sites Wild Cape Honey place a layer of honey supers on the hives and add more as they fill the first.
Once the forests finish flowering they leave the bees to ripen the honey. Nectar is 85% water and the bees need to remove most of the water. Honey needs to be below 20% water or it will ferment. Bees circulate warm dry air through the hive to evaporate the water off they do this by lining up around the hive and fanning their wings pushing air to create the draft. You can see bees doing this, on the landing board of a hive, on a warm day. Once the honey is ripe the bees cap the individual cells with wax so that the honey cannot absorb moisture on damp days.
When the combs are sealed they remove the surplus honey by gently blowing the bees off the combs. These combs are taken back to their base in Gisborne to be put through large centrifuge’s which remove the honey but leave the wax comb intact for the bees to use again. The honey is put into bulk containers.
These containers are sampled and honeys tested (in independent laboraties) for the Unique Manuka factor (UMF®) this allows us to select the finest honeys to pack into the Wild Cape jar.
Unique Manuka Factor
For thousands of years honey has been known for its anti-bacterial and health enhancing properties. In 1981 Dr Peter Molon Associate Professor of Biochemistry at Waikato University discovered that honey from some strains of New Zealand manuka bush contained a special antibacterial factor not contained in any other variety of honey.
This activity became known as the Unique Manuka factor (UMF®) and in further research was shown to be effective against a range of bacteria including the antibiotic resistant MSA bacteria. However only some strains of the New Zealand Manuka bush (leptospermum Scoparium) produce honeys containing this unique manuka factor. The UMF® brand is your assurance that the honey contains these special properties.
As Manuka honey is the only New Zealand honey to contain UMF® properties you can be assured your UMF® honey contains a large percentage of Manuka (no honey is from a pure floral source as bees visit any flower they fly past). The UMF honey association have a number of independent laboratories worldwide to verify label claims.
As Manuka honeys fame spread and the price rose a lot of honeys were being passed off as UMF® manuka to collect the premium price.
In 1997 a group of forward thinking individuals recognised the need for a certification system for UMF® Manuka. In 1998 UMF Honey Association was formed to register own and manage the UMF® trade mark.
As the image and price of Manuka grew and increasing passing off and adulteration occurred UMFHA has broadened its consumer assurance program so that today it offers consumers the assurance of,
- Independent auditing of licensee’s premises.
- Independent auditing of licensee’s product to assure licence claims.
- Licence’s product is purchased from retailers for independent testing.
- A worldwide group of independent laboratories accredited to conduct the UMF assay available to retailers and consumers.
What are the benefits of Manuka honey?
Manuka honey is famous around the world for its unique anti-bacterial activity. In laboratory tests, Manuka honey has been found to be effective against the following bacteria: Streptococcus pyogenes (causes sore throats), Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli (wound-infecting) and helicobacter pylori (causes most stomach ulcers).
My honey is crystallised – should I throw it out?
Crystallisation is a good sign in honey – it shows that the honey is pure. To remove the crystals, simply stand the jar in some hot water for a few minutes, or heat it briefly in the microwave. Remember, heat can damage the enzymes in honey, so don’t burn it!