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.

Latest Product Photos

Written by Stephanie on August 23rd, 2012.      0 comments

Have you noticed some new photos on our website? We finally have our new 'Sweetree' look on all our honey and bee pollen labels.  We asked Claudia Aalderink, our great photographer, to update our photos.  You will see some of them around the website, with some more going up soon.

I was keen to show you the behind the scenes photos of one of Claudia photo shoots.  She is very creative and came up with some wonderful shots!  Thanks Claudia!


Disappearing Bees and What We Can Do

Written by Stephanie on August 20th, 2012.      2 comments

National Beekeepers Association created 'Bee Aware Month', a major campaign designed beeto educate New Zealanders about the importance of the humble, often overlooked, honey bee. Bees are critically important to New Zealand and to the New Zealand economy – much more so than you might think!

Without bees, our gardens would be without many of their plants and flowers, and our major agri-export industries (worth around $5 billion) would be in severe trouble and a huge 2/3 of our food would disappear!  The 2/3 of our produce that depend on honey bees for pollination provide 35% of our calories, most of our minerals, vitamins, and anti-oxidants.  What would happen to our nutrient food intake and in turn our health if our bees disappeared?

Honey bee colonies are dying or disappearing in record numbers in USA.  Thriving colonies disappear overnight without leaving a trace.  The bees seem to fly off never to return, leaving the queen bee and mother of the hive to starve to death.

Things aren’t quite so bad in New Zealand, yet, but New Zealand bees are increasingly threatened with the long-term effects of varroa mite and other new diseases.  Added to this is the misuse of pesticides that affect bees in gardens and on farms, the loss of habitat for shelter and the lack of flowers for bee food.

Here’s what can we do to help our precious New Zealand bees survive:

  • Go organic or at least limit pesticides in our gardens.  If you struggle with that idea then look for bee friendly sprays and use them at dusk when the bees are back in their hives.
  • Grow plants in your garden that attract bees.  Bees love plants with ample amounts of pollen and nectar wildflowersuch as lavender, rosemary, calendula and forget-me-not .  Remember bees are attracted to these colours: yellow, blue-green, blue and ultraviolet flowers.    You can purchase wildflower bee friendly seeds here.   All the money from these seed sales go back to the National Beekeepers Association to help NZ bees.  Also check out the Urban Trees for Bees pamphlet showing planting suggestions.  
  • Create a shallow pond in your garden where bees can land on the edges to collect water.
  • Don’t mow you lawn too often, leave clover and dandelion in the lawn for a while for bees to forage on (if you can stand it).
  • Eat more organic food to encourage producers to limit pesticides on crops.
  • If you come across a swarm of bees please don’t call the exterminators but instead call your local beekeeping club.  The National Beekeeping Association have some contact numbers on their website.  Having said this you do want to destroy wasp nests as they rob beehive stores.  You can pour petrol on their nests or contact a terminator.  Make sure you learn the difference between a wasp nest and natural beehive though!
  • Find out more about the honey you are eating and make sure it is from beekeepers who care about their bee’s health and not just about production.
  • Spread the word by letting people know this information and support any petitions or change in policy that further protects our bees.

“When the flower blooms, the bees come uninvited.”  by Krishna, Rama

Information for this blog post was sourced from The National Beekeepers Association and The Telegraph

Claude Stratford, NZ Beekeeper, Turns 102!

Written by Stephanie on August 17th, 2012.      0 comments

Founder of Comvita, Claude Stratford, celebrates his 102nd birthday in
TePuke on the 18th August!  He is a walking Claude Stratfordadvertisement for natural bee products, with his daily health regimen consisting of bee pollen, manuka honey, olive leaf extract, multi-vitamins and Omega 3 capsules.

Beekeeping has been a constant in Claude's long career.  He started keeping bees at 11 years old, when he left school.  During his teenage years he ran a small commercial beekeeping business in Richmond, along with a prize-winning poultry farm.  He would cross the Cook Strait to sell his honey in Wellington. He then started an apiary businesses in the Waikato and the Peria Valley in Northland.  It wasn't until he was 64 years old, when he moved to the Bay of Plenty to be closer to his children, that he saw an opportunity to set up a honey and pollen-inspired health product business, Comvita.  It was meant to be his modest retirement venture, but today the NZX-listed business is turning over more than $80 million a year and has 250 staff in New Zealand, Australia, Britain, Europe, Asia and the United States. "It was really a hobby that just simply took off. It's gone beyond my expectations."

Mr Stratford retired in 1992, at 82, but continued to run a small pollen processing firm  until he was in his mid-90s – when he was a finalist for a Bay of Plenty Entrepreneur of the Year Award.

"I didn't actually know what it was to be well until my mid-30s. Around the ages 24 to 26 I suffered a lot of ill-health – I was just generally run-down – and when I was about 26 I read a book on pollen remedies by Marjorie McCormick called The Golden Pollen. I started producing and consuming bee pollen at that stage and I've been taking it for the last 80 years."

During his long career he has worked on Auckland's waterfront, driving taxis, selling insurance, growing comfrey, milling flour and working for Healtheries.  He is a man of amazing great tenacity and determination.  He has been married five times and had many personal tragedies. His first wife and fourth baby died during child birth, and has lost two adult daughters.  Many of his early business ventures failed and he just walked away and started all over again from scratch. 

He says it's been a mix of hard work, dogged determination, optimism and his Christian faith that's seen him through.  What an inspiration! 

Information for this blog post was sourced from

Sharing the Surplus

Written by Stephanie on August 2nd, 2012.      2 comments

Ever wondered what we do with the empty honey jars we get given back?  We planned to sterilise and reuse them but have since found a much better cause!

As you may recall from a previous blog post I have joined the Rural Women of NZ.  The branch I have joined is the Horotiu Honeys (hard case, I was meant to join this group!).  We have been thinking about what we can do to help the community and we have come up with 'Sharing the Surplus'.

We often see fruit trees laden with fruit and not picked and it seems such a shame when there are so many people struggling to put food on the table.  Our project is to turn that surplus into preserves.  When people have surplus fruit on their trees we are going to pick it, make preserves and give it to those in need.  We started this Monday with 'Old Fashioned Marmalade' from the RWNZ 'A Good Harvest' recipe book.  It is such an easy recipe - even I can do it! 

We procured some grapefruits, oranges and lemons from Freecycle, Community Fruit Hamilton and a lovely gentleman down the road who didn't use his lemons.  We then got busy washing and sterilising our jars, cutting and blending fruit, measuring ingredients, stirring pots and filling jars!  Here are some photos of our process:
IMG 2591 1 IMG 2593 1 IMG 2597 1
IMG 2594 1 IMG 2602 1

It was fun and we love that we are helping people in our community. The jars will be going to Ngaurawahia Community Care Centre on Monday to be included in their food bank parcels.  We are going to meet regularly and carry this on, so if you have or know of any surplus fruit or would like to help please contact us.

Read our blog to see what’s happening

Read our blog to keep up to date with what we are up to!
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"This honey so delicious!  It taste just like when I was a kid, rather than the supermarket brands"  Anna Bradford, Rotorua
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