In early spring the weather begins to warm and the star shaped blossom of the Manuka begin to unfurl. It’s a beautiful scene as miles of green become speckled with white and pink and it doesn’t take long for our honeybees to be drawn to the magical Manuka flower.
Manuka honey begins as nectar collected by the bees, as they forage from flower to flower. They use their long, tubelike tongues to suck the nectar out of the flowers, which is stored in their stomachs and carried to the beehive. While inside the bee's stomach the nectar mixes with the proteins and enzymes produced by the bees, converting it into honey.
The bees then drop the honey into the beeswax comb and fan their wings over each cell to evaporate and thicken the honey. Finally they cap the honeycomb with wax and move on to the next empty comb, starting all over again.
To produce a single kilogram of Manuka honey, the honeybee must bring in approximately 75,000 loads of nectar. It’s no wonder the phrase ‘busy bee’ was created!
Harvest season is the busiest time of year for Watson & Son. While most New Zealanders are heading to the beach our beekeepers are heading for the hives.
The flowering season starts in the far north first in early November, and continues until March down the lower regions of the island. We move our hives to follow the flower, harvesting as each site as it fills with honey.
Teams of beekeepers work around the clock, driving vehicles in and out of rugged terrain, sometimes even flying helicopters to get to remote areas! The pressure is on as we partner with Mother Nature to maximize the honey crop. All eyes are on the weather report, knowing that a week of sunshine versus a week of rain could be the difference of tonnes of harvested honey.