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.
Written by Stephanie on October 18th, 2018.
Many people love to sweeten their tea with honey so we've decided to sell tea, now you can have your tea and sweeten it too! We've chosen loose tea because there is plastic in many teabags and there is less wastage with loose tea. We love the T Leaf T brand of teas and have chosen the organic range because it's better for the bees and us!
Here's a little bit more about T Leaf Teas
Fifteen years ago tea lovers John and Amanda Van Gorp noticed a gap in the market. People, including themselves, were just putting up with bad tea. The quality option wasn’t there. Over several years John and Amanda traveled all over the world, visiting exotic tea gardens and creating relationships within the global tea trade to bring the world of tea back home to New Zealanders. Fast forward to 2018, they have more than 160 teas and infusions packaged and hand blended at their HQ in Petone Wellington.
They select their teas and infusions from around the world with strict quality requirements from their suppliers. T leaf T operates an audited HACCP based Food Safety Program registered with MPI as per current Food Laws.
We are pleased that they now offer an increasing selection of BioGro Certified Organic teas. Having this range of organics certified gives tea lovers the assurance that from plant to cup the chain of custody maintains its organic integrity. Keeping our bees and our bodies healthy!
Not only is there great tea, but we also sell a beautiful range of tea canisters to store your loose tea in! Blocking out light and moisture keeps your teas fresher, longer. Store your tea in style with this range of authentic Japanese Washi paper canisters. Handmade from the bark of the gampi tree; washi paper is water resistant and as resilient as cloth. With a fine selection of colour and design options and featuring an airtight insert to keep your tea fresher for longer; they are the perfect tea companion to complement any home decor.
Written by Stephanie on October 2nd, 2018.
We love to promote products that are ethical and environmentally friendly but even better when they also help those in need, like the eco toothbrushes. We've recently come across another product that we now use everyday and love, Safix dishwash scrub pads. Not only are they made from natural coconut fibre and easily remove residual impurities without damaging surfaces, they are also helping those in need.
The name Safix is derived from the Hindi word for 'clean'. The scrubs have their roots in rural India where women use loose coconut fibre to clean their dishes. These Safix scourers are made by women in rural India, and provide economic independence for over 200 women. With your support it may grow to provide ethical employment for many more.
More About the Dishwash Scrub Pads
Made from 100% coconut fibre bound together with a non-toxic adhesive, this Safix scrub pad easily removes residual impurities without damaging surfaces. It comes from the earth and after use, it goes back to the earth - it is biodegradable and compostable. Tough yet gentle and stays effective for several months.
The Safix scrub pads have the following advantages over the other scrub pads:
Made from 100% coconut fibres bound together with a non-toxic adhesive
Lasts four times longer than any scrubbers available in the market
Does not rust, splinter or degenerate on several uses
Safe and soft for hands and nails.
Easily removes baked on, burnt and stubborn greasy deposits from all types of utensils
Uses less detergent and scouring powder
This scrub pad is surface friendly and will not scratch delicate surfaces
Written by Stephanie on September 23rd, 2018.
Did you know that for every Do Gooder 'Eco Toothbrush' bought one is donated to a child in New Zealand that needs one? Just some of the community groups that have received these toothbrushes are: Community Oral Health Services in Nelson, Mission to Zero, Women’s and Children’s Refuge Services & Community Dental Services in Bay of Plenty.
Recently students at Mt Richmond School, a special needs school in Otahuhu, happily received Eco Toothbrushes and had fun practising cleaning their teeth in class after lunch. They were thrilled to learn that when they have finished using their brush they can put the handle in their compost bin and it will eventually turn back into soil!
This batch headed off to Whanake Youth and the Wicked Tooth Fairy, an amazing scheme run by volunteers to get kids to the dentist for their free dental care. These are youth who would otherwise not be able to get there themselves. Sweetree just love these initiatives are keen to spread the world, hence we sell the Do Gooder Eco Toothbrushes on our website.
To those that have purchased an Eco Toothbrush thanks for supporting New Zealanders in need!
"I love the tooth brush I got from you. It feels great in your hand, the bristles work well, and don’t seem to come loose like the other brand I have purchased. In fact I am on a subscription for a monthly tooth brush, but still purchase one from you (this is my second one from you), as I think your ones are a better all-round brush. I will be purchasing more in the future." Lee-Ann, Tokoroa
Written by Stephanie on September 14th, 2018.
Conservation Week is run by Department of Coservation (DOC) to encourage people to get involved in nature and help to take care of it. It’s a nationwide celebration of kiwis pitching in to help our native plants and animals.
This year conservation week is aiming to raise awareness of the biodiversity crisis that New Zealand is facing with more than 4,000 of our species threatened or at risk, and what we can all do to help. DOC says "The species at risk include those that people know, like the Māui dolphin, and those that aren’t well known including fungi, snails, insects, lizards and fish. All of these species are part of what makes New Zealand unique. When we lose a species, we lose part of ourselves".
Thousands of New Zealanders are already involved in conservation activities. DOC says "When we pull together we can make a big difference".
DOC and other conservation groups are organising events around the country, these provide opportunities to join in, get active and show your love for our nature. They also showcase our special species and the things we can do help conserve them.
Written by Stephanie on September 6th, 2018.
Summer is an important time of year to ensure the bees have plenty of water to drink. Help the bees in your garden this summer by creating some water stations for them. The trick is to create stations that are not too deep and allow the bees to drink water without falling in. Here's some ideas:
Create a shallow pond in your garden where bees can land on the edges to collect water
Place pebbles or twigs in a saucer of water so bees have something to stand on and drink
Fill a bucket, pail or trough with water. Cover the top of the water with wine corks, this gives the bees a landing pad to drink from
Wet sand is another great option, pop it near flowering plants and water regularly.
Written by Stephanie on September 6th, 2018.
As you may know this month is 'Bee Aware Month' and with spring upon us it's a great time to focus on making sure our Kiwi bees have plenty of food to keep them buzzing!
Bees forage on flowers for nectar, which provide carbohydrates, and pollen, for protein. These are important for growth and energy. Well-nourished bees are more capable of fending off disease and parasites. And you may be aware there are more and more diseases and parasites that affect bees in New Zealand.
But what can we do? There is plenty we can do, we can plant bee friendly plants, not use bee harmful chemicals in our gardens and supply water for them. I'll be covering these aspects in blogs this month. First I'll cover what you can plant at your palce to feed the bees.
How to Encourage Bees To Your Garden
Planting in large clusters of the same species of flower will attract bees into your garden
Plant flowers for each season, a steady source of nectar and pollen all year round will help ssustain the bees
Here’s a list of some plants to get you going:
Wildflowers are naturally organic—they are not susceptible to bugs or diseases, can help control garden pests and they attract bees and beneficial insects into the garden. We sell a wildflower seed mix with all the following flowers included, and the great thing is all proceeds go to the National Beekeepers Association for research into helping our NZ bees.
Of course there are many more, so do some more research for plants in your area. Garden catalogues often make note of which plants attract bees. Here’s some tips for choosing plants:
Look for flowers with single layers of petals instead of doubles or triples
Select simple traditional flowers that are not highly modified
Choose flowers that have big open ‘bowl’ type flowers, that give bees easy access to the nectar and pollen
Choose sunny spots with shelter from the wind, over shade.
Remember that bees are attracted to abundance & quality of pollen and nectar, density of flowers, size of plant, fragrance and easy access to the flower's insides. So choose plants carefully, plant in large clusters of the same species of plants together. Include different sized and shaped flower. Try to plant flowers for each season so bees have a source of nectar and pollen all year round.
Written by Stephanie on September 6th, 2018.
One of the biggest threats to bees is the use of insecticides in home gardens, farms, orchards and market gardens. They are designed to kill good and bad insects, including bees so please avoid them. Sprays and coated seeds containing neonicotinoids are linked to bees disappearing around the world. Unfortunately they persist in the environment for a long time, so keep on affecting bees. The European Union have banned neonicotinoid insecticides for two years until further studies have been carried out. This is fantastic!
Avoid products that contain these:
Tui, one of New Zealand's gardening suppliers, says that “the solution is to reduce the risk of insect attack, by keeping plants healthy, well watered and well fertilised to maintain a strong plant. Insects are more likely to attack weak plants. If insect problems do occur, choose one of the natural based insect control options available” In NZ you can purchase natural based insect controls such as Tui Natural Plant Protection Range or go to your local Palmers Garden Centre , who sells a range of bee friendly pest solution such as Easy Trap, Kiwicare and Yates products.
Spray carefully and spray in the late evening with bee friendly sprays after bees have gone to bed.
Don’t spray while plants are flowering.
Don’t spray insecticides for a fortnight before flowering.
Avoid spraying plants that bees are feeding on.
One major problem is that there are many pest controls, including neonicotinoids, used on produce and as a seed treatment, there seems to be no restrictions in place. How can we stop this happening? We can:
Grow our own fruit and veges
Preserve your own food
Buy from your local farmers market and ask the producer how they handle pests
Eat organic produce and food. Hopefully this will then increase the supply of organically grown food and decrease the amount of sprays being used in crops.
Written by Stephanie on September 1st, 2018.
Wow can you believe it's September and 'Bee Aware Month' already! Time to celebrate our New Zealand bees! This year's focus is on bee health and how we can all help protect our NZ bee population. The most important things we can all do are to provide food and water for them and to be very careful when spraying on our properties. Here's some great tips to look after our bees this season:
Feed the Bees
Bees forage on flowers to collect nectar (a source of carbohydrates) and pollen ( a source of protein) to help them grow and provide them with energy for their busy work. A well-nourished bee is more capable of fighting disease and parasites.
Just like us bees need water to survive. Providing them with a source of fresh water, especially in summer when puddles are scarce, will be a huge benefit to them. There are a few tricks to providing them water, it needs to be shallow and have something for them to sit on so they don't fall in. Have a look at these great ideas!
Spray Safe and Consider the Bees
One of the biggest treats to bees is the use of insecticides in home gardens, farms, orchards and market gardens. They are designed to kill good and bad insects, including bees so please avoid them if at all possible. If you really need to use them please read these great tips first - We've got lots more information on sprays if you follow this link.
Written by Stephanie on August 31st, 2018.
Now that I'm becoming more mindful of waste I'm more aware of how wasteful gift giving can be. I'm sure you, like many of us, have been given gifts that never get used. It seems such a waste!
It can often be a struggle to find the right gifts for people. A lot of our friends are trying to declutter and reduce the amount of 'stuff' they have and I really don't want to add more impractical, wasteful things to their lives. And parents usually have everything they want. Now when buying gifts I think to myself "Will this add to the world's waste problem? Will this be useful or loved?" I will often ask if there is anything they want or need, at least then I know it won't be wasted. Here's some good tips I've come across:
give an experience rather than an item, I love this idea. Day trips with grandparents are always nice and shouting a friend out for a meal makes their day special. There's nothing like spending time with the ones you love.
make something from the heart, there's lots of ideas on the internet.
dedicate a donation to a cause close to the heart of the person you are giving to.
I cringe at the amount of wrapping paper that is used once and then thrown out, especially at kids parties and Christmas. I've recently come across a much better option and everyone that has received a gift wrapped this way has loved it! Every time I go past a second hand shop I buy some scarfs and use them for wrapping gifts. It's a Japanese form of gift wrapping - furoshiki. You can just search on Tube You for furoshiki and the item you are wrapping and get some great ideas. There is no paper and no sellotape used and the greatest thing is the recipient can reuse it for a gift that they give! I love it! Here are just a few of the gifts I've given wrapped in scarfs and my basket of scarfs all ready to go. By the way you can use any material and ribbons you like. The world is your oyster!
Written by Stephanie on August 26th, 2018.
I usually get a bit slack with reducing my wastage when I'm travelling. How about you? I've always carried my reusable water bottle in the car but that's as far as it went, until recently. When travelling or eating out on the run it can be very hard to avoid single-use plastic. But I've found a bit of prep and forward thought can really help reduce this sort of plastic wastage.
I knew I needed to get my act together and get a little car kit together but I kept procrastinating. My final breaking point was taking the boys for sushi in the food court during the school holidays and there were no other options but single use plastic, and we were eating in the food court. I was pretty wild they didn't have other options (especially since we were eating in the food court). And I was upset with myself for not being prepared and bringing something with me. I started working on my kit that afternoon!
So I finally now have a great kit in my car that includes: cups, reusable stainless straws, cutlery, fabric napkins, stainless steel containers with lids for our sushi, leftovers, etc. I went a bit fancy and picked up a flax kete from Go Eco for $16. It's hand made by a local woman in Kawhia, you may have seen her on Seven Sharp a few weeks ago. I love it, it makes it feel pretty special!
I always have a reusable drink bottle in the front of my car and a JOCO coffee cup in my glovebox and I keep the kit in the boot of my car ready for when we need it.
We love these 'meals on the go' products so much we now sell them:
Written by Stephanie on August 16th, 2018.
We're rapt that the the NZ government has decided to ban plastic bags. Of course some people might not be so happy, relying on plastic bags for many uses. One use that is very popular is for lining our rubbish bins. Can we do without them for this purpose? Is there an alternative to using a plastic bag to line our rubbish bins?
I've been cutting back on our plastic use for a few years now and this year I'm making a real concentrated effort to eliminate any plastic that can be replaced with something more sustainable. Going completely plastic free may be unattainable but I'll just do the best I can to get as close as I can.
One thing I struggled with for years is the idea of not putting a plastic bag in my rubbish bins as a liner. The thought of no liners and having to scrub my bins out put me right off. So I've just carried on using kitchen liners in my big kitchen bin and supermarket plastic bags in my other bins, but not been feeling good about it.
As time went on and got into the habit of taking my own reusable cloth bags to the supermarket (every time I went) we had less plastic bags in the house so I ended up with none to put in the bins. I had to slowly stop using liners in my bins, except I did carry on with bin liners for the kitchen bin. I first started with the bedroom and computer desk bins, they mostly only had paper in them anyway. Then I took the bold step of not using liners in the bathroom and toilet and you know it wasn't that bad. I'm a waste freak and go through the bins and separate out paper, soft plastics recycling, and other recycling from the rubbish anyway. I hardly ever have to clean out those bins they stay really clean.
Now the kitchen rubbish bin was a different story! What was I going to do with that! I hated that I was still using plastic and that took me to the even bolder step of using a newspaper liner. Below is a video to show you how to make them, I actually get the kids to make it for me each time I empty the bin. I only empty the bin once a week now and it is mostly only 1/4 - 1/2 full at the end of a week. I can't believe that the newspaper liner holds everything and doesn't break, it's perfect! Honestly, give it a go, what's the harm in trying!
The key has been that I have been cutting back waste for a while know, we put out 1 paper rubbish sack at the gate once every 4-6 weeks at the moment. I'm finding our rubbish bins don't really have much messy stuff in them any more anyway, which really helps.
Here's some of my tips making sure your rubbish isn't wet or smelly for a newspaper liner:
No food scraps go in the bins. We use a worm farm, compost and have chickens and sheep that love our scraps. Anything they can't deal with gets buried in the garden to decompose (not sure if this is good or bad but my rubbish bin doesn't smell).
All soft plastics such as bread bags, chip packets, cat food bags, goes to the supermarket soft plastic recycling bin. Just make sure they are washed and dried first so they can be used or they will end up going to the landfill. If you buy meat in plastic this can be washed, dried and put in recycling too. I buy my meat from my local butcher and take reusable containers for them to fill.
Swapping to a moon cup has been a huge waste mimimiser! You could try that or reusable pads or something similar to cut out sanitary wastage. I love that I now have no wastage there!
If you have nappies in the house look at washable options, there are some great options out there now. Also don't use baby wipes, try buying some cloths especially for this and wash and reuse them (I used to use small Chux cloths).
Use cloth napkins instead of serviettes and paper towels (I bought a whole lot 2nd hand) and reusable cloth pads instead of facial pads.
I'm sure there's more that I can't think of right now but you are most welcome to email me if I've forgotten a messy item that normally goes in the bin and I'll add it (if I have an alternative).
Written by Stephanie on July 30th, 2018.
The photo to the right was a display at the Waikato Museum that shows how much packaging the average New Zealand family sends to the landfill every month. Startling isn't it! Do you think your family uses this much packaging monthly? I think if you held onto your plastics for a month you would be surprised how much you used!
You can just imagine what this is doing to the environment with everyone adding their bit to the landfill each month. If we all did a little something to reduce the amount of packaging we use it will all help!
Tips for Reducing Packaging in Our Homes:
Grow your own veges and fruit
Buy fresh, loose food rather than pre-packaged food, you can make or buy little cloth bags to put loose fruit or veges into
Make the most of bamboo and other natural fibre products! You can purchase sustainable dish brushes, etc from EcoWarehouse
Save glass jars and containers for storing bulk food and leftovers
When you have a crowd over and don't have enough for them to eat off make sure you use paper or biodegradable plates and bamboo cutlery or even better get them to bring some more plates and cutlery with them, less waste!
Buy nuts, dried fruit, flour, legumes, coffee, rice, oats, etc from bulk bins using paper bags of cloth bulk bin bags (check out your local Bin Inn Store)
Consider buying commonly used items like flour and rice in bulk and share with friends (bags are usually paper)
Purchase from a farmers market or your local farm shop and take your own bags
Take cloth bags or tea towels to your local baker (farmers market or farm shop) for bread, or better still make your own bread with your bulk flour! You can make your own cloth bread bags by following these instructions
Written by Stephanie on July 9th, 2018.
As mentioned in my last blog postthis month is Plastic Free July. We're going to give you some tips on how to be plastic free. These tips on our how to avoid plastic bag use.
How to Limit Plastic Bag Use
Store cloth bags in your car and/or handbag so you always have them when you out shopping. Don't accept plastic bags from stores, instead use your cloth bags. The trick is to put them straight back in the car or in your bag when you've emptied them.
Don't buy fruit and veges pre-packaged in plastic, instead choose the loose items. Use your own small cloth bags or paper bags to collect them, we love the Rethink produce bags.
Use cardboard boxes from the supermarket to carry your shopping
Buy fresh bread in paper bags, or even better make your own bread
Ask the butcher to wrap meats directly into paper or take your own reusable containers. Our butcher (Wholly Cow in Hamilton and Cambridge) is more than happy fill our containers.
Buy bulk as much as you can to avoid over packaged products, then decant or free-flow when you get home. Buy items from the bulk bins using paper bags or these great Rethink bulk bin bags.
Ask your local grocery store and/or market to stock paper/cloth bags, if they don't already. Or organise some boomerang bags for them.
Use newspaper to line your rubbish bin instead of a plastic bag - check out this website for more details. Buy paper rubbish sacks instead of the plastic ones from your supermarket, they are surprising tough. To avoid mess and smell in your bin start composting, a worm farm or get chickens for your scraps. Or you can put your wet scraps in a container in the freezer until rubbish day. But remember food scraps turn into methane in the landfill so composting, worm farms or chickens are a better option.
Instead of using plastic bags when walking the dog use newspaper to wrap up their business. Or you could look into cornstarch based compostable bags online or from your pet supplier, then have a dedicated pet poo composting area.