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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Here's a bit about collecting manuka honey in New Zealand.

Manuka is a native plant, now that most of the good land has been turned to agriculture, the big areas of manuka tend to be in places too steep to use for anything else, or, some other issue such as desert or poor soil.

In the USA, large 2 wheel drive trucks are used that are capable of carrying large numbers of hives or honey boxes. This happens in NZ too, but to get into the increasingly hard to access places where manuka grows, helicopters and small 4WD vehicles are often used. It is affordable because the honey is very valuable. You can go to a lot of effort just to get a smallish crop, but it pays cos of the high price of the honey.

In the far north of NZ manuka flowers early spring. Some beekepers put hives there, then move them south to catch more manuka flows further south that are later.

Manuka has to be lab tested for purity, and cannot be exported as manuka unless it has passed the tests. So a big part of targeting manuka is to prevent other floral types being mixed in with it.

The pic below is my own 4WD leaving a site with a load of manuka honey, taken 2 days ago. The truck can carry a ton, the gross load would be a tad over that, once extracted probably get around 560 kg's of honey, so, 1/2 a ton.

30 boxes of honey, took me all morning to collect, because I sorted it from the hives frame by frame. Other flower types are coming into bloom now, so I took all capped frames, and had to leave ones with too much uncapped. Also attempted to identify frames with other honey types and leave them behind also. Parked up by the river for lunch, plus allow the last few bees to exit the supers. Then there's a couple hours drive to the extracting shed and unload.

I know you USA guys will laugh at spending so much time on so little honey. Some NZ manuka can be accessed easily and large trucks are used, and it can also be pure enough that harvesting can be done by the box, same as you would in the USA. But such sites are highly sought after, and rent has to be paid to the landowner, this can often be in the vicinity of US$150 or so a hive. Manuka is a fickle plant that does not flower well every season, so with all the costs involved, it can be high risk. It can also be high reward if things go well.

Manuka is a thixotrophic honey, which means it goes into a gel. So if the combs are simply uncapped and spun, the honey won't come out. Instead, prickers are used, these are plates with thousands of little needles that insert into the cells then vibrate, breaking up the gel and liquifying it, so it will extract. Even then, radial extractors will not get the honey out, tangiental extractors have to be used.


 

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Cool! That's a lot of hard work for an oldtimer....spoken from experience although not with manuka.
My main varietal is sourwood. Nowhere near as valuable as manuka but still sells at a premium. There is no oversight so many unscrupulous beekeepers falsely label and sell 'sourwood'.
 

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Great Pic Oldtimer brings back some memories. After leaving your area we went down south to a farm near Raetihi and met a commercial beekeeper bringing hives onto the farm for the manuka that was beginning to flower so spent a day with him checking on his colonies and also went past another commercial loading area with the helicopter landing spot for getting the hives into inaccessible valleys. This was all organised by the old farmer by the name of Bulley who must be in his eighties, anyhow he organised me with the beekeeper when he found I was interested in beekeeping. He also invited me around to visit one of his farmer buddies to help him collect some Rams that he was buying from his buddy which was also a good experience. Hope to head out your way in around December 2019 if as they say around here " If the Lord is willing and the creek dont rise " My daughter has now moved to Tasmania so we will stop over in NZ for a little then move on to Tasmania.
Johno
 

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Wow! Thats pretty cool. Amazon sells what they call certified manuka honey for 68 dollars for an 8.8 oz jar. As I understand it the stuff is not primarily for eating but for medicinal purposes.
 

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Thanks OT. The last I read a barrel of manuka honey goes for 60 G, so it sounds like it’s worth the effort eh?
 

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Very cool. Lots of work for sure. Is kanuka honey similar? I bought some for acne and it was also very expensive, but works great. Thanks OT. J
 

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Discussion Starter #7
That's a lot of hard work for an oldtimer....spoken from experience
Ha that's the truth, however i only have 400 hives now so putt along. Since finding this nice manuka area I'm planning to sell 200 and just keep 200, so free myself up for some non beekeeper activities. :)

My main varietal is sourwood. Nowhere near as valuable as manuka but still sells at a premium. There is no oversight so many unscrupulous beekeepers falsely label and sell 'sourwood'.
Yup, exactly the same thing happened here, money brings out the worst in people and certain honeys could be blended into manuka to spin out the dollars. So our Ministry of Primary Industries stepped in and designed tests that look for chemical markers that are only in manuka honey, so what goes out now is the real stuff. I think they allow for some inevitable small contamination of other floral types but it has to be pretty minimal or the test is failed.

Hope to head out your way in around December 2019 if as they say around here " If the Lord is willing and the creek dont rise "
Sounds good Johno, we can catch up again if you are in my vicinity, and have the time.

Amazon sells what they call certified manuka honey for 68 dollars for an 8.8 oz jar. As I understand it the stuff is not primarily for eating but for medicinal purposes.
That is the cheap end stuff, and believe it or not, people do actually eat it. :eek:. However they see it as a health product, not something you slap on your toast like jam.

Thanks OT. The last I read a barrel of manuka honey goes for 60 G, so it sounds like it’s worth the effort eh?
Yes, at bulk prices, that would be for the top end stuff, by the time that get's put in jars and ends up in China, the very most expensive jars go for US$1,100.00 for a 1/2 pound, although they do get a pretty box and a gold plated teaspoon thrown in.

Not sure quite how that works, perhaps it proves you do not have to have brains, to have money, LOL.
 

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wow, and very cool ot! thanks for sharing.

with prices like that i imagine yard security is an important consideration.

the offer to take you bass fishing still stands should you ever find yourself in my neck of the woods. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
I have not forgotten SP, i would love that. The opportunity to check out some genuinely TF hives would also be great. If i do make it to the US I'll definately be in touch.

Re yard security, you are correct. They say money is the root of all manner of evil, and it's true. Plenty of criminals have got involved in beekeeping here, and even street gangs have been employed as goons. There are guys have gone to harvest their crop, and found it already gone. Hives are stolen, and even storage premises are broken into and jared honey ready for sale is stolen.

At one point, so much manuka honey was being stolen from my own local supermarket, that it was removed from the shelves and replaced by empty display jars, and to purchase any, you had to specially ask for it at the counter.

Luckily for me, i'm small, niche, and mainly off the radar for this kind of attention.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Is kanuka honey similar? I bought some for acne and it was also very expensive, but works great. Thanks OT. J
Actually, kanuka is a pretty different honey to manuka. But it is a great honey for skin, has a lot of collagen in it plus other goodies. In my view, it is a more useful honey than manuka. Just, it's a fraction of the price. I have used kanuka straight from the hive for skin issues and it certainly got things cleaned up, both for me, and for friends.

Manuka has antibiotic properties so is useful for healing wounds, ulcers, etc. But kanuka is better for any other skin application where strong antibiotic action is not needed, although it does have some antibiotic properties same as most honeys.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Sad story. The weight of it on the back broke a few welds in the deck. So before it all got worse I took it off. Just a few weeks ago, just before honey harvest.

It's fairly complex to fix, because it's not just re welding it, they will break again. I will have to add some bracing, may even have to take the deck right off and re work. It will be a project for next winter.

Already I am badly missing the ezyloader, surprising how you get to rely on something. Luckily my back is holding up for now!
 

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OT your picture has me longing for warmer days, leaves on the trees and some green in the landscape and it's only late fall here.
I'd even go for a couple of dozen heavy supers to hump onto the truck about now.

Hoping your storage barrels fill up fast!
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Thanks Clyde :)

Like most beekeepers I know the feeling, going kind of stir crazy once winter has gone on long enough. :)
 

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Even then, radial extractors will not get the honey out, tangiental extractors have to be used.
Back in 1987 we extracted tons of Manuka with radial extractor, but broke quite a few frames too...

You seem to have bees on the box corner, which reminds me of our lunch moments when driving the cost road back to Opotiki, after the brake the remaining bees had fled to a tree branch nearby and made a swarm.

IMG_20130419_0070.jpg

We used the Norwegian type of stirrer or what you call it?

IMG_20130419_0090.jpg
 

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Discussion Starter #16
You are right Juhani there was a little bunch of bees there. Great pic of you by the truck, looks like a typical Opotiki coastal type road.

Stirrer? That thing bottom centre of the second pic? Here now they call it a pricker. It is Norwegian? They have thixotrophic honey also?

Best I can tell from that second pic, you are uncapping the honey and also pricking? Now they are making prickers that you don't have to uncap, just run them straight through the pricker and into the extractors.
 

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You are right Juhani there was a little bunch of bees there. Great pic of you by the truck, looks like a typical Opotiki coastal type road.

Stirrer? That thing bottom centre of the second pic? Here now they call it a pricker. It is Norwegian? They have thixotrophic honey also?

Best I can tell from that second pic, you are uncapping the honey and also pricking? Now they are making prickers that you don't have to uncap, just run them straight through the pricker and into the extractors.
Pricker, right!

https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x34cuex

In the beginning of this video there is a fairly poor picture of what they seem to call "norwegian honey pricker"

In Norway they probably have the same as we, heather.

I suppose this machine can be used without uncapping too.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Good video Juhani i did not know we brought in equipment from Norway.

Honeysucker Extractor, i like that. :)
 

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At those prices, why not just cut out the combs and squeeze them to get the manuka?

These days, cannabis sells for less $. It will also cure all of your ills.:)
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Good point Gino, although an efficient extracting plant is way quicker than crush and strain.
 
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