Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Country hives ..

Last night my friend and I took our 2 small hives captured from swarms we had afew weeks ago, out to their rural home.

We tied the bottom board, hive box and cover tightly together with ties, loaded them into Doug`s van, covered them up securely and drove (quite quickly I might add) , out to the countryside. We did all this at about 8.00pm, it was still reasonably light, I just hope most of the bees were home for the night !

An uneventful 15 mins later, minus afew odd looks from people, we arrived at my friend`s place, drove across the paddock and gently put Totara and Rimu ( more tree names) under the Poplar trees, where I know they will be very happy and productive (I hope).
I am looking forward to having rural hives, it is not that far out of the city, surrounded by 2 acre blocks, lots of trees and the Waikato river, but has a totally different feel about it, if that makes sense ??

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Life of the Bee

Where would we be with out this little gem, `The Life of the Bee` by Maurice Materlinck, translated by Alfred Sutro. First published in May 1901, reprinted every year up to 1912, with the Pocket Edition in 1908 to 1920.

`What is this "spirit of the hive" - where does it reside ? It is not like the special instinct that teaches the bird to construct its well-planned nest, and then seek other skies when the day for migration returns. Nor is it a kind of mechanical habit of the race, or blind craving for life, that will fling the bees upon any wild hazard the moment an unforseen event shall derange the accustomed order of phenomena. On the contary, be the event never so masterful, the "spirit of the hive" still will follow it, step by step, like an alert and quick-witted slave, who is able to derive advantage even further from his master`s most dangerous orders.

It regulates day by day the number of births, and contrives that these shall strictly accord with the number of flowers that brighten the country-side. It decrees the queens deposition, or warns her that she must depart; it compels her to bring her own rivals into the world, and rears them royally, protecting them from their mothers political hatred. So, too, in accordance with the generosity of the flowers, the age of the spring, and the probable dangers of the nuptial flight, it will permit or forbid the first-born of the royal princesses to slay in their cradles her younger sisters, who are singing the song of the queens`

I love the language used by Materlinck, it sings to me and describes even the most ordinary occasion beautifully. Who could not resist reading the chapter `The Massacre of the Males`??

Russian Bees

This interesting book was written by I Khalifman and won the Stalin Prize in 1951. Translation made from the Russian addition by Molodaya Gvardia Publishing House, Moscow 1953 and revised by the author.

Another book with interesting chapter titles, eg, `The Nest of the Four-Winged`, `Living Brush` and `A Turn of the Spiral` amongst others.

As you can imagine, this book has socialist views of beekeeping and some interesting perspectives on life in general, this is from the last couple of pages: This creative impulse manifests itself in the every-day work of millions of working people of the Soviet Land, workers in the green factory.
Orderly rows of the future forest belts stretch criss-cross over thousands of kilometres; there, in clusters, rise young oaks, spreading their green leaves and growing stronger and stronger as years go by.
Powerful tractors furrow the fields with glittering steel coulters and leave behind wide ribands of soil made fertile by the roots of sown mixed grasses.
Fields of these grasses form an endless carpet and the bees sent here by man reach with their proboscides into floret after floret of collective - farm clover.

All this has been done by the hands and minds of the Soviet people, people that were the first in the world to become masters of their own destiny and are the first to become masters of Nature`

Well, life in Russia has changed over the last few years, this book is certainly an insight into a period of history I didn`t know that much about.

The Apiary ..

This beautiful book was given to me by a friend, it written by Alfred Neighbour and published in 1878. It still has the original watercolour painting of Geo Neighbour and Sons Bee Farm West End, Hampstead. Chapters have interesting titles such as `Abdomen and Secretive Organs` , `Thorax and Organs of Motion` and `Bee-Keeping in London` all which delve into wonderful worded detail, eg `There are many persons, now in this noisy city pent, who frequently remember the days of childhood when, among pastures of clover or amidst flowery heath and woodlands, they listened to the cheerful hum of bees.`

The next 2 pictures are of different hives used, both very handsome - I wonder how practical ?
I found this book fascinating, these hives were works of art - very pleasing to look at. The inside of the hive was often grained and varnished with elaborate entrances and facade.

The hive with the 3 bell glasses must have been a delightful sight. The bees would come up throught one of the 3 holes and convey their honey into the bell glasses( with ventilators), which, when filled held about 6 pounds each. There were 3 windows in the lower hive, each closed with a shutter, very useful and interesting for inspection. Across the centre window was a thermometer , enclosed at the sides by slips of glass. The hive, in 2 parts, was made of straw with a zinc ventilator, ornamentally painted, forming the apex: this was useful in letting the confined hot air pass away in warm weather.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Sustainable Garden Ramble

Our native fuchsia, Kotukutuku, note the blue pollen - a beautiful small tree with red peeling bark and these stunning flowers that the birds love for the nectar.

Today I went on a sustainable garden ramble around the fair city of Hamilton, this was one of the first gardens, a small inner city paradise with NZ native plants and beautiful roses, herbs, a worm farm, vege garden - all grown with no sprays, everything as organic as possible. The woman who owns this garden runs the Envirocentre here in Hamilton. There was an excellent working worm farm in the garden, it was quite compact and I think I will invest in one, I need somewhere to put food scraps that doesn`t smell or attract flies.

The second garden I went to was this gully section on the outskirts of the city. Hamilton is made up of a number of gully systems that run through the city. At last people are bringing these areas of land back to life and replanting with native plants. Most of the gullies are full of weeds like willow and privet plus old car bodies and fridges !! This garden went down to a steam and has been planted with flax, cabbage trees, kauri, kahikatea, pukatea and many other appropriate plants, many being eco-sourced from the surrounding areas.

I went to another gully section that has been planted up for 35 years, it was like being in the bush somewhere far from any city - amazing place with a small nursery and very productive vege garden. The English couple who had done all the hard work were happy to show people around, they also had a chap talking about the bird life or lack of it, native birds that is, here in the city. Compared to other places in NZ, Hamilton has a very dismal record of leaving bush areas and planting native trees and other food souces like Banksia, Gums etc. Hopefully this is changing as people become more aware of what can be done with abit of effort.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Queen Cells and a Hive A Buzzzzz

Yes there were 5 queen cells in Matai, some had hatched which would explain the 2 swarms over the previous week or so, others looking ready to . I felt bad about destroying them but I didn`t want to loose any more bees to the neighbourhood. There was no sign of disease in either of the hives, lots of bur comb and brood quite high up in the top supers. Also, quite alot of drone cells.

A queen bee ready to emerge from her cell - trying to hold it and camera made for difficulties getting the exact moment - I dropt the camera in the end - blast .

The bees where remarkably calm while all this intrusion into their home was going on. I am not the fastest or most agile when it comes to checking on frames, I do try to go slowly and quietly and not make any sudden movements, all the while telling them ( bees, that is ) how beautiful and clever they are and please don`t take offence and sting me, not too many times anyway. I did get stung once, on the knee of all places. I quickly flicked the sting out and put honey on the spot, it takes the `bite' out of the pain.
This was Miro after I had finished checking and swapping frames around - there was this huge number of bees out the front and there was no aggression or loud buzzing, it was like they thought, thank goodness for that, we have got more room. I must fix the `leaning tower of Pisa` look on this hive !
I am taking the 2 swarms captured out to a friend`s place in the countryside, I am looking forward to having rural and urban bees, it will be interesting seeing how each different situation performs. These 2 hives will be in a paddock situation but also within close range to a number of large country gardens and lots of trees.

First Honey for the Season

After checking all the frames for queen cells I decided to harvest 4 frames from Miro - the bees had been busy for acouple of weeks already and had nearly filled a super. I like this picture, it shows the construction of the cells so clearly.

Our new extractor - it is bolted into place now, no more jumping like a demented washing machine and she works like a dream. So easy to clean, just unbolt the top bit, take the hard plastic drum and metal frame holder outside to wash.

So much easier then turning the handle, especially when there are alot of frames to do. I have decided this year to extract more often, probably when there are full supers, it means I will (hopefully) have honey to sell on a regular basis.

I sold 12 jars last week from this extraction !! I put a sign up at work and the whole lot went in a day - to students and tutors alike. Now I have orders to fill - its amazing. I am so in awe of these creatures and I must admit, I do feel abit guilty about taking their stores, even though there is always plenty left for them.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

It`s swarming time again ...

I can`t believe it - both hives swarmed last week and here`s me thinking I had made a good job of checking for queen cells acouple of weeks ago. This is the nuc with the swarm from Miro, it was easy to capture, having landed in a small maple tree in the garden. A beekeeper friend asked if he could have it as he had lost a hive recently, I wish I had kept it now as I am going to be putting 2 hives out on a friends lifestyle block in the countryside as soon as I get the bees !!!

The bees from Matai landed on a high fence and were quite happy there, or so I thought ... Dashed off to get acouple of boxes from a friend, leaving the swarm happily buzzing away in the sunshine, got back 20 mins later and they had vanished, not a bee to be seen - I was cross with myself for not putting them into a cardboard box or the like until I got back - never trust homeless bees ...
A friend and I have brought quite abit of hive gear including a 4 frame extracter, electric uncapping knife, excluder and hive boxes, lids etc from a gentleman who has had to give up beekeeping after nearly 60 years as his eye sight is failing. I really felt for Bernard, he had a great collection of books also that he very kindly has given to me. I will post about them later - some really old books which I can`t wait to read.
I will be extracting this week hopefully as there are a number of frames full of capped honey already.

Bee Poems by Lia ..

This is my beautiful Granddaughter Lia, who turns 11 this Dec - a delightful child who is very interested in her Nana`s bees and all of nature - I love her to pieces ..
She penned these poems for me and I had to share them.

Bees live in hives
in each hive there are more then 50005.
Sometimes they are cute
and much small then a ute.

Little worker bees
I feel sorry for their poor knees,
working out their wings
flying and seeing all sorts of things.

You might have seen them before
flying in packs of 5 or more.
The Queen is so fat she wears a hat -
her crown ...

My honey label is `Ora` which is the Maori word for pure, here is her 2nd poem ..

Ora honey is so yummy
it feels warm in my tummy
Have it on toast
I always eat the most
Sweeten up your roast
with a little Ora honey

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

New beginnings ...

New growth and the flowers on the Judus Tree ( Cercis siliquastrum), in the Hamilton Gardens this week. I love the way the light shines through the new heart-shaped foliage. This small tree flowers before the new leaves appear, heralding the change of season. The pea - like flowers appear on the stems, followed by flatterned pods. An exotic tree that is grown widely in New Zealand, sometimes used as street trees. The autumn colour is yellow, not that great really, but this multi-stemmed tree is popular here.

The Kowhai (Sophora tetraptera) are in full bloom everywhere at the moment - such a joyous sight ! It produces alot of nectar with the small waxeyes forever jostling for space on the twiggy branches. This NZ native tree used to grow along the river banks and for old Maori it was another signal to plant kumera or sweet potato. Here in the city, with the Waikato river running through the middle, we have begun planting these trees again, hopefully the birds will be drawn back with this food supply provided.
Zoom in and have a close look at the flowers, they are bright yellow with all the petals pointing forward, a yellow dye can be made from the petals.
All parts of the Kowhai were used by ancient Maori as medicine, infused bark was drunk for internal ailments, cuts, bruises and swellings. Boiled and crushed bark was used for sprains, broken limbs and cuts.

Isn`t this gorgeous ? There is something about new growth on a tree that really touches me deeply, I can`t explain why.. maybe its the sign of new life, the colour is always stunning, so fresh and vibrant - I am a sucker for leaves, no matter what time really, although spring and autumn would have to be my favourite times of the year. I could never live in a climate that did not have the definate 4 seasons - do I hear a Crowded House song coming on ?? This young Fig tree (Ficus carica) is growing happily in the sustainable garden here at the Hamilton Gardens and I couldn`t resist taking a photo - I mean, how beautiful is this ? My children always tease me about my photo albums and the lack of human pictures there are in them !!

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Busy Creatures

This Australian Grevillia, not sure which one, was covered in bees on a warm spring day. This is one of the many plants grown at Ngaroto nursery, propogated and sold to the public at very low prices compared to the bigger nurseries. I always try and buy from smaller places as I find their plants are usually better cared for and healthier, plus it is supporting a small business. Grevillias grow well here, they don`t mind the heat over summer, being from Australia they thrive on lack of water. They are an excellent source of nectar for the bees and birds such as the Tui, flowering in early spring right through into summer, often when there is not alot of nectar available.

There must have been a bumblebee nest close by as this small, strongly scented Rhododendrum had many small bumblebees diving headfirst into the flowers, emerging covered in pollen ! I love watching bumblebees crash-landing from flower to flower, they look so uncoordinated but really they are proof that nature is amazingly clever - this bee shouldn`t beable to get off the ground let alone fly home with a load of pollen and nectar .. but she does.

An afternoon at Ngaroto

Ngaroto Nursery is a 7 acre wonderland just north of the small township of Te Awamutu, about 30 mins drive from home. I often go there to blow the cobwebs away and recharge my batteries. The nursery sells plants they propogate themselves from the many mature plants and trees grown in the park-like grounds. This is the place I came to after my adored Father died 4 years ago, I could walk and cry with no one to see me ..
It is a beautiful time of the year with the blossom and new growth, the Rhodos were humming with bees and the wee native fantail or Piwakawaka followed us around the garden, darting and flitting quite close, I know its the bugs we disturb, but it always nice to think they are not afraid.

My friend Julie`s foxie, Jess, loves going there, she runs for miles chasing rabbit smells and flushing birds out of the undergrowth - a dog heaven. Thats Julie below, no sign of Jess !!

Ngaroto is out in the countryside, surrounded by farmland. Before European settlement the land was covered in native forest with abundant birdlife, fish in the nearby Waipa river and the small lake Ngaroto, ( one of the many peat lakes dotted throughout this part of the Waikato region), nearly all of the bush was cleared for farmland, leaving small remnants of Kahikatea, poisoning the waterways with chemical run-off and nitrogen from the dairy farms - great uh ?
There is also a little cafe where one can sit out under the trees with a latte , always good for the soul ..

Monday, September 24, 2007

Opening the hives - spring check

Last week I opened both Miro and Matai for the first time after the winter months and look what I found !! The busy little queen has been laying in the top boxes, even with plenty of room the bees have made extra cells on top of the frames which she has also laid in. I knew I should have taken the top 2 boxes off over winter, it won`t happen again thats for sure. I am going to put a queen excluder on both hives and will have to take frames with brood in and swap them around with frames from the bottom box. I put 2 apistan strips in each hive, down amongst the brood, they will come out next month. I did not see any sign of varroa or other disease and both hives were very busy with lots of flying too and fro! For the amount of bees and the time I spent looking through each box, I was amazed at how docile and calm we all were, it was a really peaceful experience - I do like working with bees ...
I`m not sure why, but these 2 gorgeous pieces of comb had been built inbetween the 2 top boxes, one had some larvae in it, the other was empty - would anyone know why this would happen ? I took the comb off and kept it for Lia to take to school. There was still plenty of room on the frames for the bees to fill - maybe they decided they wanted a penthouse suite !

Keeping Bees

Out west on the Raglan road there is an interesting farm owned by Rick and Liz, where everything, right down to the milk in our tea and the composting toilet, is organic. It was here on Sunday morning I took part in a beekeeping lesson. Rick, seen here at left, explaining some of the differences in the size and shape of the queen, worker and drone, was well qualified to take the course having kept 2 hives on his property for about 8 years. Being organic, there are no sprays or chemicals used and going by the taste of his honey, there is a wide variety of flowering trees and plants around. They grow specific bee food like Tree Lucern which flowers twice a year.

Most of the other people there did not have their bees or hives yet so all the equipment needed was shown and explained, including the smoker - very important ! Rick explained the different materials used in the smoker, he prefers dried pine needles which do give off a pleasent smell and light smoke, what the boxes are used for, the different sizes, clothing needed, pests and disease including the varroa mite which is here in New Zealand now and for which we have to treat our hives on a regular basis. The queen excluder was on one of the hives and it was a good example of how it works, especially at this time of the year when the queen has started to lay, she will often lay up into the top boxes if given the chance. The picture below shows Rick clearing out propolis that the bees have started to put on the excluder. The course was run by the Envirocentre in Raglan, they also run permaculture, sustainability, seed saving and eco sourcing lessons. Raglan is a great little seaside town on the west coast of the North Island of NZ. It has a large number of people living there that are artists, writers, weavers, alternative life-stylers - great cafes and shops. It was a sleepy village for many years but is now a popular destination for day trippers plus has the best left-hand surf break in NZ.
We had a good look at some of the frames from the more docile hive, apparently the other one is quite agressive ! There were a number of drone cells plus worker brood, pollen and as we expected, queen cells.

I found I knew about most of what was being talked about, but it was wonderful being with like-minded people all really enthusiastic about keeping bees. I don`t think any of them lived in an urban situation like myself so that is my next goal, to get more bees in the cities !

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Spring has Sprung ..

My new grandson, Elliott Thomas was born last week - what a perfect Spring present - this little boy is surrounded by love, just like he should be - welcome to our wonderful world beautiful boy ..

While I was over in Tauranga last weekend my son Cameron and I were out in his garden doing a spot of weeding and dead heading as you do, I found many bumblebees and honey bees on the Perris japonica - the sweet scent from this plant was very strong. I saw alot of small bumblebees so I gathered there must be a nest close by. After some swift talking I managed to convince Cameron that he didn`t need to go looking for it so he could spray it to kingdom come ! I really like bumblebees, in fact I have a small tattoo ( horror, gasp etc) of a Bombus terrestis on my upper arm - where it can be covered if need be !!

Sustainable Garden Hive

The sustainable garden, situated in the beautiful Hamilton Gardens, is run on permaculture methods and values. It is completely spray and chemical free, has 2 chookies ( hens) that are let out of their coop each day to free range, the hen house is also shifted around the garden regularly so the girls can dig over and fertilise each plot, a flow-form water reticulation set-up, and last but certainly not least, a working bee hive !!
There are veges and flowers, herbs and fruit trees grown in this small garden, it is seasonal, rich in insects and birds ..

The hive is placed on a platform on top of a pergola, north facing and protected from the cold south westerly weather by a trellis affair. It is checked regularly by a local bee keeper, as I work down here in the Gardens for the Horticultural campus
of a teaching institution, I am going to ask if I can be the keeper of these bees.
There has been acouple of vandelism episodes where idiots have knocked the hive down, with any luck they got stung, but each time the bees have carried on regardless - such forgiving creatures ..
On a summers day, sitting under the vine covered trellis, if you listen carefully you will hear the contented hum of the bees ..
Actually, most people don`t even notice the hive of industry happening right above them, not unless they stop for awhile.

The bees have a wide range of flowering plants and trees to choose from, including this pretty cherry, Prunus campanulata or Tui tree as it is known here in NZ. The bright pink blossom attact Tui and other nectar drinking birds, it is also the first cherry to bloom - always a welcome sign of spring after a dreary winter. It is not a native tree, cherries being introduced here in the late 1890`s - it is a good source of nectar at this time of the year for native and exotic birds. The Tui in the picture below is sitting on a native flax, Phormium tenax, also another very rich in nectar plant - the bird`s long brush-like tongue getting right down into each flower for the sweet treat ! Tui are real characters, quite big birds with irridescent blue green/black feathers and a white tuft under the beak, also called the Parson bird for obvious reasons. They have an amazing range of song, from the sound of a creaky door right through to the most pure bell-like chiming. They imitate other birds and human sounds, including a chainsaw !

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Early NZ beekeeping

Before New Zealand was settled by mainly the British, Scots and Irish in the early 1800`s,( my Meehan ancesters were very poor Irish potato farmers who came here, probably on the bottom of the sailing ship, in 1842,) there were no Apis mellifera here, only different species of native solitary bees. Of course, as where ever they went in the world, the settlers brought their plants with them and expected them to grow ! In our temperate climate and great soils, they did - and how !! Alot became invasive and are now just a curse. Anyway, I digress, back to the bees.

The fruit trees and clover were not being pollinated by the native bees so the first honey bees were brought to NZ by the sister of a missionary, Mary Ann Bumby in March 1839 to a Weslyan Mission station in the Hokianga, which a beautiful area in the north of the North Is. The 2 skeps of bees were brought from Sydney Australia, having been introduced to the state of New South Wales in 1822 - no honey bees there either before the convicts !!

Anyway, there was this Reverend W C Cotton who also brought bees to our fair shores in 1842 from England by ship, this being the only quick way to get here in those days, in fact, the only way really. The good Reverend wrote a book called `My Bee Book` before he left, he starts with this written passage :

The Bee of England, like the Man of England, if he be but good of his kind, is, I think, surpassed by none in the world. I will not get bees from India - nor bees from South America - nor from New Holland, but carry them direct from England, sixteen thousand miles over the sea

Cotton then goes on to describe how he carried his bees across the oceans. Three colonies were placed in a barrel, which he had refurbished and recoppered, and the joints properly fitted. He lined the whole with thick felt. In the lower part of the barrel he packed with ice, with a tap to take off any melted water. The upper part of the barrel with the skep like hives was completely filled around the hives with well dried cinders thus excluding all light and heat. He wasn`t worried about air getting to the bees, but just in case he placed a small tube in each hive leading to the outside world and a tap at the bottom of the barrel to let out melted water. He reckoned that two thirds of the ice would 'cross the line' and a good half of the ice would have melted by the time they reached NZ.

He also tried an evaporation method as well as the ice. he suspended one hive on springs and another on gimbals so that the motion of the ship did not disturb them. He placed the hives in a double case with a wall of water surrounding them which is continously replenished by the ships system. The two cylinders of zinc in which the hives were placed were open at the top to allow evaporation to occur, a piece of rag was placed between the two cylinders so as to transfer water to the top of the hives thus ensuring an even surface over the hives to be cooled. Again he supplied a tube for air supply.

Finally , he made an observation hive which he feed with honey during the journey. We don`t know which plan worked the best as it wasn`t written in his book or the subsequent book ` A Guide for NZ Beekeepers` in 1848. We know at least some survived as the hard-working little honey bee is found through-out the country in the 21st century.

New Zealand Native Trees

Many of New Zealand`s native plants are endemic to our islands, we have been isolated from the rest of the world for millions of years and our plants have developed for the conditions. Before humans settled here, about 1500 yrs ago, there were only 2 species of mammals, a tiny bat and seals, with much bird life, including the extinct Moa and many others now gone for good ..

I am a staunch advocate for the NZ native flora and fauna - here are just afew of our beautiful trees that the bees love !

One of the most stunning trees, Pohutukawa( Metrosideros excelsa) also called NZ Christmas tree due to the fact it flowers over the summer period. It is a large much branched tree which can grow to about 50 metres - these trees literally hum with bees when in flower. It is an iconic NZ symbol and although a coastal tree, it will grow well inland. Dry seasons result in the heaviest nectar flows from Pohutukawa, the bees working the blossoms from dawn to dusk. The flowers offer ample greenish yellow pollen which cover the bees, no more pollen than that required is collected, so copious is the nectar flow.
Pohutukawa honey is water white when extracted and has a unique salty flavour !!

The Kowhai or (Sophora tetraptera) middle of the North Island and (Sophora microphylla) throughout NZ, are one of the best know early flowering native trees. Kowhai can reach a height of 12 metres, bursting into flower in the spring before the new leaves arrive. The bees compete with birds for the large amount of nectar produced form the gorgeous bright yellow bell-like flowers. The pollen is deep orange, but it is the nectar the bees tend to collect. The honey is a light amber in colour with a mild but distinctive flavour.

This photo is one I took last year on a visit to Pukekura Park in the lovely west coast city of New Plymouth, about 3 hours from where I live.
The bird is the native pigeon or Keraru, sitting up in a mature Kowhai tree, she/he just sat there while I took photos and generally mucked around under the tree ! As you can see, the tree has a filmy canopy effect, the leaves being quite small and pinnate. The keraru is a stunning bird with beautiful irridecsent plumage, they are so big and heavy you can hear then flying, they tend to crash-land onto small branches - very easy to catch by Maori bird hunters, it is illegal to eat them now !!

The Houhere( Hoheria populnea) is a small forest tree, up to 12 metres high, also known as Lacebark, due to the lacy effect
of the bark when peeled off. The flowers are white and star-shaped, the bees adore it, I do to, it is a lovely tree, it has so many sweetly scented flowers, often concealing the leaves. It flowers in the autumn with the bees collecting large amounts of nectar, the amber honey having a strong but not unpleasant flavour.

Manuka (Leptospermum scoparium) has been in the news alot lately with the discovery of the UMF ( unique manuka factor). The common name is Tea Tree, early settlers discovered the leaves boiled (for a good length of time ) made a drinkable brew ! Manuka will secrete nectar under almost any conditions, the rich amber honey varies a good deal both in flavour and consistency, influenced by soil types, weather conditions and the intensity of the honey flow. This small tree is found throughout NZ, I grew up on an isolated sheep farm in the King Country ( central North Is ), my farmer father spent many long hours cutting manuka down, never realising of course, how rich we would be now if we had known the wonderful healing properties of both the honey and the oil produced by this shrubby, scrubby tree.