The Buzz Blog

Welcome to our blog 'The Buzz'.  Here we will keep you updated on what is happening in the world of bees and honey and anything else that we think you would be interested in.  If there is a topic you would like to hear about drop us an email and I'll see what we can do.

Sweetree Hakarimata Honey Back in Stock!

Written by Stephanie on May 27th, 2017.      0 comments

Hakarimata-main-946Finally our popular Hakarimata honey is back in stock!  It is truly a delicious honey, according to Annabelle White (Chef, Author and TV personality) "Hakarimata is super - intense, full flavoured and quite delicious".

Sweetree's Hakarimata honey is collected from the Hakarimata Range which forms part of the western rampart of the Waikato Basin.  Nestled in the foothills, our bees feast themselves on the copious sources of nectar from native flowers above and pasture flowers below.  This devine honey won Bronze in 2014, Gold in 2013 and Silver in 2012 in the 'Beekeepers Special Reserve' honey competition with the National Beekeepers Association Honey Show. We will enter it again this year for the first time in a few years.

Purchase Hakarimata honey here

Then try making Sweetree Honey Oats Cakes with Hakarimata honey.
Topics: Products

Sweetree Habeetat - More Tree Plantings

Written by Stephanie on May 18th, 2017.      0 comments

You may recall that in 2013 we dug out a swampy area at the back of our property into a pond to create habitat for native birds and for our bees, it's our Sweetree Habeetat.  Over the last few years my stepfather has been growing and tending to native plant seeds and together we have planted hundreds of native flax, grasses and trees around the pond.  The pond is now looking fantastic and is the home to quite a few ducks, frogs, pheasants and the occasional visit from Tui.  As the trees grow we hope to see more native birds down there and that it will provide food for our bees throughout the year.

This weekend we had a working bee where friends and family joined us to plant over 250 plants.  Here's some photos of the day, it's coming along nicely!

IMG 1889  IMG 1896
pond3  pond2
    IMG 1901


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Topics: , Bee Friendly

The Joys of a Family Business

Written by Stephanie on May 14th, 2017.      0 comments

The thing I love about working from home in our family business is that I'm there for our boys, I can go to their sports days, be home for them after school or when they are sick.  It's great that I can work around them. They are the reason we started this business, so I could earn an income but still be there for the boys.  

As they  have got older I've come across another bonus of having a family business, extra hands available when we need them!  The boys have helped from time to time over the years, whether it's emptying a pallet of jars into boxes, labelling jars of honey or packets of pollen, or helping to pack honey. But as they are getting older and stronger (14 & 12) I'm thinking it won't be long until they are helping Martin in the field on a regular basis!  Daniel helped Martin harvest the Ohui Manuka this season and was pleasantly surprised that he enjoyed it!  And when they have a car license they might be keen to do the markets for us!

Here's some photos taken over the years of the boys helping:

Topics: , About Sweetree

OSOF Sustainable Me Challenge for May!

Written by Stephanie on May 3rd, 2017.      0 comments

You may recall from recent posts that I'm trying a new challenge - 'OSOF (Our Seas Our Future) Sustainable Me Challenge'. Each month this year we will be challenged to test out an environmentally friendly behaviour that in some way impacts ocean health. It gives us the challenge to try something new for the month and decide if we want to adopt it more in our lives. January's challenge was to stay away from one use plastic and styrofoam when eating out, February was to drive less, March was to avoid microplastic and other chemicals in personal products and April was to preserve some fresh produce.

This month's challenge is to
 reduce our overall energy use by taking an energy break.  Did you know that our collective household energy consumption contributes 585 kilotons of carbon to the Earth's atmosphere each year?  You can just imagine the impact if we don't use energy for one day (or even half a day) each month.  We would make a small but significant impact on our collective carbon footprint. 

There's lots of ways we can unplug and take a day off from superfluous energy use, for example: turn off the TV for a night and go for a walk instead, have a candlelit dinner or bath, read a book, do a puzzle, or play a board game instead of spending time online.

Save Energy-484Here's What The Challenge Suggests:

Beginner: Pick one day this month to test out an energy break. Power down for 1 hour or more to start, and if that works, then try it a bit longer the next time. Find ways to make it fun for your entire household to give this the best shot at working.

Step it up: Commit to a full- or half-day energy break once a week.

Want more? On top of a weekly energy break, look around your house to find out how to make more impactful, longer-term changes to your home or your lifestyle. 

See the OSOF website to read how saving energy is good for the environment and the different things you can do to reduce your energy output.

Read more about:


OSOF Sustainable Me Challenge for April!

Written by Stephanie on April 1st, 2017.      0 comments

You may recall from recent posts that I'm trying a new challenge - 'OSOF (Our Seas Our Future) Sustainable Me Challenge'. Each month this year we will be challenged to test out an environmentally friendly behaviour that in some way impacts ocean health. It gives us the challenge to try something new for the month and decide if we want to adopt it more in our lives. January's challenge was to stay away from one use plastic and styrofoam when eating out, February was to drive less and March was to avoid microplastic and other chemicals in personal products.

This month's challenge takes place in our kitchens, to preserve some fresh, local produce for the depths of winter.  What a great idea!

preservesHere's What They Suggest:

Beginner: Just freeze something. This is the easiest way to preserve fresh foods. Make a basic freezer jam, or simply slice up some plums and pears and stash them away for a winter’s morning.

Step it up: Get preserving! Try out some pickles or jam through the links provided above and below.

Want more? Go crazy in the kitchen with jams, chutneys, sauces, kimchi and soups. How much can you preserve?

See the OSOF website to read how preserving is good for the environment, and find great recipes and ideas.

I recently froze some blueberries and raspberries ready for baking and smoothies and have been planning on making some kimchi and sauerkraut, so this will be a good excuse for me to get my act together!  If you have too much produce you can always swap with your friends. My dad has been giving some of he's bottled beetroot from his garden.  There's nothing like home preserves!  It taste so much better than canned food and it's better for the environment!

This challenge works in perfectly with Sweetree's photo competition!  Email us a photo you have taken of reused glass jars (not just Sweetree jars) being used creatively and you could be in to win $108 worth of goodies!  Show us your storage ideas, preserves, anything!

Read more about:

Topics: , Enviromental

Why Hasn't It Been A Good Season for Honey?

Written by Stephanie on March 19th, 2017.      0 comments

You have probably seen or heard in the media that this season's honey harvest will be significantly down.  We think we are down by about 50% but we won't know for sure until the honey is all harvested at the end of this month.  You may wonder what affects honey volumes and why each season can be so dramatically different.

Just like any agricultural business we rely heavily on the weather patterns.  Our bumper crops have always been in long dry summers.  Of course we need a little rain to help the flowers grow but not some much that it stops the bees flying to collect nectar.  Wind is also a problem, the wind blows the flowers off the trees/plants and the wind can make it difficult for bees to fly.  Wind and rain reduce the flying time for the bees that they would normally use to harvest nectar.

iStock 000003281196XSmallThis year we had a late spring and summer was cold and windy. The poor bees have really struggled with this as they can't get enough nectar from the flowers during the flowering season.  The temperatures need to be high enough for the nectar to flow in the flowers for the bees to collect it and it has only been warm enough in the last couple of weeks.  It will be interesting to taste this season's honeys, they could be quite different this year as the bees rush to get the last of the nectar from late flowering plants at the end of Summer.

Spring and Summer is generally a busy time for bees. If bees have the opportunity to make honey, in the form of access to nectar and accommodating weather, they will take it! So if one or both of these factors are reduced the resulting honey flow will reduce also - as has happened this season!

See what honeys Sweetree have in stock

Topics: , Bee Facts

'Bee Sweet and Reuse' Photo Competition!

Written by Stephanie on March 12th, 2017.      0 comments

When we were deciding how to package our honey it had to be glass.  It is so much more healthier, attractive and environmental friendly.  I came across this on Glass for Life facebook page which sums it up quite well - "People trust glass more than any other packaging material to protect the flavor and freshness of their food and drink. And for good reason. Glass is safe and healthy, pure and virtually inert. It’s made of natural ingredients—sand, limestone and soda ash. Glass is 100% recyclable and highly sustainable— unlike most other packaging materials, it can be recycled over and over. And glass says quality without even trying. Glass is life, for all the right reasons."

Lots of our customers reuse our honey jars for jams, chutneys, sauces and for storing items.  Any jars we get back I get together with the local Rural Women group and we make jam to give to the local food bank.  My pantry is full of them for nuts, seeds, etc.  What do you use empty glass jars for?

Competition Time!

We would love to see what people do with used glass jars so we have decided to run our photo competition again.  Email us a photo of glass jars (not just Sweetree jars) being used creatively and you could be in to win!  Show us your storage ideas, preserves, anything!

Please note the photos are not being judged on photographic ability but rather the original use of one of our empty honey jars!  You have plenty of time to be creative, the competition will close on 30th June!!

The best photo wins $108 worth of goodies - 500g Sweetree Kirikiriroa honey, the latest Good Magazine (will be Jul/Aug edition by then), Tui Sports massage & body balm & World Organic Luminous Rosehip & Orange Moisturiser.

Second best photos wins - World Organic Luminous Rosehip & Orange Moisturiser worth $48!

The first entry wins the latest Good Magazine!

Here's some ideas from our photographer, Claudia Aalderink who owns The Mandarin Tree art and concept store in Gordonton. There are more ideas on our Pinterest page and some coming on our Facebook page over the the next month or so.
bead-in-jar                pumice-in-jar
Bee-Sweetree-Reuse-Keepsakes  Bee-Sweetree-Reuse-Pencils

Topics: , Enviromental, Recycle

OSOF Sustainable Me Challenge for March!

Written by Stephanie on March 1st, 2017.      0 comments

You may recall from a recent post that I'm trying a new challenge - 'OSOF (Our Seas Our Future) Sustainable Me Challenge'. Each month this year we will be challenged to test out an environmentally friendly behaviour that in some way impacts ocean health. It gives us the challenge to try something new for the month and decide if we want to adopt it more in our lives. January's challenge was to stay away from one use plastic and styrofoam when eating out.  February's challenge was to drive less.  This month's challenge takes place in our bathrooms, to reduce our personal care product footprint.  The idea it to avoid microplastic and other chemicals in personal products.


Here's What They Suggest:

Beginner:  Become an informed consumer. Read the back of your shampoo bottle and other personal care projects. Look for and learn about the chemicals listed above in their various forms. When it’s time to purchase more, choose a brand that is microplastic, paraben, phthalate, formaldehyde and palm oil free.

Check out the local natural skin care businesses I buy from - World Organics & Oasis Beauty , and of course other personal care products from EcoStore, EarthWise and Only Good.  Be aware of any over packaging, make sure they are recyclable.  I like that some Bin Inn stores sell EcoStore products in bulk to save on packaging!

Step it up:  Extend your scrutiny to other bathroom products including ensuring that all your cleaning products are microbead-free. You might also take a look at your choice of toilet paper and choose a 100% recycled brand such as Earthcare or recycled sugarcane fiber Greencane paper.

Want more?  Go cosmetics free! There are lots of ways to eliminate commercial personal care products from your life. Try washing hair with baking soda and conditioning with vinegar. Olive or coconut oil can be used as a face wash alternative. Do some research, get creative, and let us know what you find!  

Check out inspirational local websites such as Mrs Goodness and Wendyl's


Read more about:

Topics: , Enviromental

Learning Forgotten Arts

Written by Stephanie on February 24th, 2017.      0 comments

Forgotten Arts-409If you are looking for a special day out with friends, want to learn a new skill or just looking for something different to do then you won't get a better day out than at Forgotten Arts.  Forgotten Arts provides hands-on workshops by gifted artisans on a stunning lifestyle property in Clevedon.  They currently teach candle, soap, knife and cheese making, patch working, felting, sewing, leather work, pyrography, gourd art, hedgerow weaving and making beef jerky, with more courses on the way!  

This week I went on a soap making course at Forgotten Arts, it was my much wanted Christmas present from Martin.  My friend and I had a ball!  We were warmly greeted by owners Maureen and James and offered a cuppa and delicious homemade baking.  The courses are run in the stable which is fully set up with a kitchen, workshop and separate rooms for different classes.  It has a warm, friendly and comfortable ambience and every detail has been thought of, right down to the freshly picked flowers!  The lunch, made by Maureen who is a chef, was superb.  The ploughman's main and chilled tomato soup was delicious and the slice for dessert was delectable. Being gluten free it was so nice to go somewhere that I can eat a lovely meal and not have to worry about it.  I'm looking forward to trying a winter workshop where our food will be cooked on the fireplace!!

Forgotten Arts Soap Making-488-636Liz, the soap making artisan teaching us, was very passionate and informative about her craft. She made us feel relaxed and it seemed like we had known her for years within a short period of time. Everything was well organised and explained and it was loads of fun making the soaps and discussing different ways we could make them.  We then looked at the different ways of decorating the soaps for gifts.

We came away with two batches of soaps to cure, a folder full of information, tips and recipes, a mould and one of Liz's pre-made soaps.  It felt like Christmas!

Thanks so much James, Maureen and Liz for a wonderful day out and exciting new skills to hone.  I'm looking forward to my next course and seeing you all again! 

Check out Forgotten Arts Website 
Like Forgotten Arts Facebook Page

Topics: , Events

What's So Special About Kirikiriroa Honey?

Written by Stephanie on February 19th, 2017.      0 comments

Unblended honeys are not new, but the fact that Sweetree’s honeys are not based on a single flower source but the local area and season make our approach unique. For this reason we choose our sites carefully and we never mix honey from different locations. Each apiary location has its own special nuance and character and this is reflected in the honey when you come to taste it.

Sweetree Kirikiriroa is certainly no exception!  This honey came about when we approached the Hamilton City Council in early 2014, looking for iconic Hamilton locations to place some of our hives. After discussions with staff, Hamilton Gardens, Hamilton Zoo and Taitua Arboretum were identified as ideal locations for the bees to do their business.

We have 45 hives in these Hamilton City sites and we love that we can produce a honey that reflects the flora and places of Hamilton. The three locations we’ve chosen are some of our most-loved and beautiful sites, and this enhances their reputation and the fantastic work staff is doing there.

Martin-with-Dep-MayorAt the Hamilton Farmers Market, many locals tell us they don’t have any bees in their gardens and they would be very keen to have some. In the height of summer we now add 1,500,000 bees into the city, each with a 5km flight range, and we are very pleased to be working with Council to make some contribution to improving biodiversity and nature in the city.

Julie Hardaker, the city’s previous Mayor, said the partnership with Sweetree Honey emphasis Council’s commitment to protecting the city’s natural environment, while promoting public-private partnerships. “Hamilton is known for its green spaces and this is a great match. Bees pollinate an estimated 70 per cent of our food crops, so gardeners near these three locations will benefit as well,” Mayor Hardaker says.

Hamilton Zoo Director Stephen Standley says the hives are a welcome addition to the Zoo’s biodiversity. They are proud to be part of a combined effort with Hamilton Gardens and Taitua Arboretum to produce a quality product for people to buy, and the sweet treat is also given to the zoo’s honey-eating birds such as the tui as well as primates.

When Martin dropped the zoo beehives into their site adjacent to the giraffe enclosure at 6:30am.  It was very quiet and also a little surreal to see seven long necks towering above the foliage and 14 large eyes staring at him stock still and watching his every move!  That's a first in beekeeping for him!

Sweetree Kirikiriroa honey won silver at the National Beekeepers Honey Competition in 2015!  Unfortunately we didn't have it packed out in time for the 2016 competition.  Cross fingers it will be for this years!

Get a taste of the Hamilton City and try pairing it with different food and in different recipes.  

Last year we paired out honeys with Meyer Cheese and Good George Beers made in the Waikato.  The Kirikiriroa honey works beautifully with Meyer's Garlic and Chives cheese and Good George IPA.  

You might like to try this Creme Brûlée recipe made for us by a local chef using Kirirkiriroa honey. 

Purchase our Kirikiriroa honey here!


Check out the great locations to visit within Hamilton City

Topics: , About Sweetree, Products

OSOF Sustainable Me Challenge!

Written by Stephanie on February 12th, 2017.      2 comments

You will have probably guessed by now, by reading previous posts, that we are passionate about sustaining our earth for future generations.  Martin's full time job is actually in energy management, helping large businesses reduce their energy consumption and look at alternative energy uses.  At home and in our honey business we have substantially reduced what we send to the landfill, we avoid over packaging, try to avoid one use plastic, buy bulk, reuse or recycle as much as we can and purchase locally as much as possible.  

All Sweetree honeys are packaged in glass jars, our propolis in glass bottles, we use paper bags instead of plastic at the markets and we are currently investigating compostable pouches for our bee pollen.  We still have lots of work to do but we are getting better!

I believe that if everyone just starts somewhere and does a little bit (e.g. saying no to supermarket plastic bags) it will make a big difference to the future of our earth.  It can be really hard to take on new behaviours and even harder with our busy lifestyles these days. I found it easier to start by following a few organised challenges like 'Plastic Free July' and 'Recycle Week', I just stared out small and now many of those behaviours that I found hard are now automatic.

New Challenge!

I've recently come across a new challenge which I'm keen to try.  It's called the 'OSOF (Our Seas Our Future) Sustainable Me Challenge'.  Each month this year we will be challenged to test out an environmentally friendly behaviour that in some way impacts ocean health.  It gives us the challenge to try something new for the month and decide if we want to adopt it more in our lives.  January's challenge was to stay away from one use plastic and styrofoam when eating out. The current February challenge is to drive less, this also coincides with Aotearoa Bike Challenge.  Driving less could be interesting for us considering we live on a busy rural road!  But I'm keen to think outside the square, one way I could drive less is to share with the neighbours in getting our kids to and from school.

OSOF say "Give it a go for one month and see if you like it.  If it’s something you can get on board with, great! Adopt it as part of your regular routine.  If it’s a behavior that doesn’t work for you, that’s ok.  After 12 months and 12 activities, you just might have a few new actions to add to your sustainability portfolio.  If possible, rope a couple of friends or family members into participating with you.  The more support you have, the more likely you are to keep up with the behaviours for a full month – enough time to decide whether or not it’s something you can take up for the long term.

Good luck and have fun!  Let us know how you get on!

Read more about the Sustainable Me Challenge
Find out about the January Challenge
Find out about the February Challenge

Topics: , Enviromental

Hakarimata's a Honey

Written by Stephanie on January 11th, 2017.      0 comments

With summer here it is a great time to share some special Waikato spots we have found in the areas where our honeys are harvested.  Last but certainly not least is Hakarimata!  Hakarimata Scenic Reserve is the range of hills running alongside Ngaruawahia, it's a great place to see Kauri and enjoy a walk or tramp through native bush.  Here's some great walks in the reserve:

Hakarimata Rail Trail

This is a great track for a family walk or cycle and follows the former Ngaruawahia / Glen Massey railway to attractive stream cascades.  It is about 30 minutes one way.  Get more detail on this walk.

Kauri Loop Track

This well formed track offers spectacular views, beautiful bush and one of the largest Kauri trees in the Waikato.  This is a one hour walk.  Get more detail on this walk.


Waterworks Walk - Hakarimata Dam

This lovely walk passes through attractive native bush, alongside a stream to the old Hakarimata dam.  This is a three hour loop track.  Get more detail on this walk.

Hakarimata Summit Track
The track climbs to the summit of Hakarimata (374 metres).   At the the top you get good views of the coast, across the Waikato Basin and down to Ruapehu.  This is a three hour return trip.  Get more detail on this walk.  , Beware there are 1349 steps and it's a very popular spot for people wanting to get fit!

Hakarimata Walkway
If you are wanting a longer tramp this is the one for you!  Walk the length of the Hakarimata Range and enjoy excellent views towards the coast and across the Waikato Basin.  This is an advanced walk that takes around 7 1/2 hours to complete.  Get more detail on this walk.

Check out this 
great guide to walks in the Hakarimata area.

Hakarimata view   hakarimat waterway   Hakarimata steps

Hakarimata Area:
There is much to see and do in the area, including:
Much of this information and more is found on the Department of Conservation Website, check it to plan your weekend get aways.

Purchase Hakarimata Honey here!  Please note not all our honey varieties are available all the time.
Topics: , Waikato

Idyllic Ohui

Written by Stephanie on January 3rd, 2017.      0 comments

We have been sharing some special spots we have found in the areas where our honeys are harvested, todays area is a magic spot in its own right!  Ohui is nestled between Pauanui and Whangamata, on the eastern side of the Coromandel Peninsula, right next to Opoutere.  Ohui means 'place of meeting', so why not meet some friends there and check out the area!  

The Ohui / Opoutere area is truly an idyllic spot to get away from it all!  With a beautiful isolated white sandy beach and calm estuary there is endless fun (and/or relaxing) to be had!  Some activities you can enjoy in the area are:
  • Swimming at the beach or estuary
  • Surfing
  • Snorkling in the estuary or around Hikunui Island
  • Kayaking in the calm estuary
  • Fishing via boat or surf casting
  • Playing in the rock pools at Ohui (northern) end of the beach
  • There are many walks to enjoy such as:
    • Historic mining sites such as Phoenix and Luck at Last goldmines
    • Maungaruawahine Pa hill gives wonderful views of the harbour, sandpit and outlying islands as well as Ruahiwiwi Point Pa.  From Opoutere Road follow native bush to the top of the hill, from there you can see see stone ramparts that formed part of the Maori fortifications
    • On your way back home Wentworth Falls is worth a visit if you feel like a 2 1/2 hour walk
  • Mountain biking
  • The sand spit is a breeding ground for endangered native birds, so the perfect place for bird watching
  • Relax with a book under a tree or on the beach!  

opoutere1-311    opoutere2
Photo by Ayden Evelyn

A great location to stay is the  Opoutere Coastal Camp Ground, it borders the forest that leads to Opoutere beach.  

Purchase Ohui Manuka Honey here!  Please note not all our honey varieties are available all the time.
Topics: , Waikato

Last Minute Christmas Shopping?

Written by Stephanie on December 18th, 2016.      0 comments

If you've left it a bit late for Christmas shopping don't worry you can still get hold of a taste of Waikato with a Sweetree honey!  It's too late for us to courier to you, if you're outside Hamilton but you can pop into one of our stockists near you and pick up a jar or two, here is a list of our stockists.

Surprising Horsham Downs

Written by Stephanie on December 12th, 2016.      0 comments

With summer here we are sharing some special Waikato spots we have found in the areas where our honeys are harvested.  This time it's the Horsham Downs area, our home base.  Horsham Downs is just north of Hamilton City and surprisingly has a few things worth checking out!  

HD Golf Course-892-72Horsham Downs Golf Course

Tucked in between the Waikato River and River Road in Hamilton lies an unexpected gem for golf lovers. Only 3 kilometres from Flagstaff in the northern suburbs, Horsham Downs Golf Club is well known for its challenging yet picturesque layout. It also deservedly has the reputation for being the friendly club of the Waikato.  Read more about the golf club.

Fruitdale Orchard

Fruitdale Orchard is nice and close to the Hamilton City boundary, located on Osbourne Road.  They grow strawberries, sweetcorn, peaches, nectarines, plums, tomatoes, blackberries, apples, pears, feijoas and cherries.  Throughout the season you can pick your own, which makes it a great day out for the family, especially when you can have fresh fruit ice cream in the shop afterwards!  Find and more and get directions.

Te Awa River Ride

This scenic 70km river ride is under construction between Ngaruawahia and Horahora, 20km south of the Mighty River Domain at Lake Karapiro. The route will weave through rural and urban landscapes, taking in waterfalls and historic Maori sites as well as trendy shops, cafes and wineries.  

At present (late 2016) the cycleway starts at Horotiu (across the bridge from Horsham Downs), and winds it's way beside the river to the Hamilton City Gardens.  Along the way you pass Hinterland Adventures (laser tag, paintball, clay bird and archery outdoor centre), Fonterra Dairy Factory and Waikato Equestrian Centre.  Ending at the Hamilton Gardens gives you a great place to have a rest and re-energise.

Find out more about the River Ride and view maps.

Other Places to Visit Nearby:

Purchase Horsham Downs Honey here!  Please note not all our honey varieties are available all the time.
Topics: , Waikato

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