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 Online Store Closed until 3rd January

Written by on December 16th, 2017.      0 comments

Our online store is now closed until 3rd January.  Any orders received after the 14th Dec will be sent on the 3rd of January, sorry for any inconvenience.  

Remember you can purchase from one of our stockists, at the Hamilton Farmers Market on Sunday the 17th Dec and at The Farm Shop in Gordonton Village.


Don't Worry if You've Missed Ordering Online Before Christmas!

Written by Stephanie on December 15th, 2017.      0 comments

We have snuck away for a little break before Christmas, as we'll be busy beekeeping over the holidays.  We will not be sending any orders from 14th December until 3rd Jan.  But don't worry you can still purchase our honeys at your local stockist and Harald will be at the Hamilton Farmers Market on Sunday 17th December!  We will also have our full range of honey, pollen, gift boxes, HoneyWraps and seeds at the Farm Shop in Gordonton Village.  Here are their hours up until Christmas:

The Farm Shop, 1060 Gordonton Road, Gordonton Village Hours:

Christmas DecorationWed 13th Dec   10am to 6pm
Thur 14th Dec   10am to 6pm
Fri    15th Dec   10am to 5pm
Sat 16th Dec     9am to 5pm
Sun 17th Dec   10am to 5pm
Mon 18th Dec   10am to 5pm
Tues 19th Dec   10am to 5pm
Wed 20th Dec   10am to 6pm
Thur 21st Dec   10am to 6pm
Fri 22nd Dec   10am to 5pm
Sat 23rd Dec     9am to 5pm
Xmas Eve (24th)  10am to .........

As you can see they will be running 12 days straight to the build up to Christmas Eve!  Thanks team!
Topics: , About Sweetree

Remedies for Bee Stings

Written by Stephanie on December 10th, 2017.      0 comments

As you may have read in my last blog worker bees only sting if they feel threatened.   But there are times when you just can't avoid being stung, if this happens what should you do? 

Please note:  Bee stings can give different reactions, from temporary pain and discomfort to a severe allergic reaction.  This blog does not cover severe allergic reactions.  If you have a severe allergic reaction please seek urgent medical attention.  If a reaction persists for over a week or covers an area greater than 7–10 cm please see a doctor.

Taking the Sting Out

When a bee stings you, the barbed stinger remains embedded in the skin, attached to the stinger is the venom sac, which can carry on pumping venom into the body for up to 10 minutes. For this reason, doctors recommend removing the stinger as soon as possible.

It used to be said that pinching or squeezing the stinger could empty the venom sac into the sting, making things worse.  Studies have since shown the amount of venom released does not change whether the sting is pinched or scraped off, but a delay of a few seconds leads to more venom being injected.  Therefore, stingers can be removed by either scraping or brushing them away, or by pulling them out of the skin.

Check out  10 Ways to Remove a Bee Stinger Without Using Tweezers



The sting may be painful for a few hours and swelling and itching may last for a week. You should avoid scratching the area as this may increase the itching and swelling.   Once the stinger is removed try to wash the area with soap and warm water and place a cold compress on top to reduce the pain and swelling.  Or you could try any of these remedies.
  • If you are in a remote area you could spread mud on the area and let it dry, but wash with soap and warm water when you can
  • Spread baking soda paste on the area and allow it to dry.  Using this or the mud draws the poison out of the area
  • Pain medications and antihistamines can also help relieve pain, swelling, and itching in the area
  • Apply toothpaste
  • Mix a paste of vinegar and baking soda and place on the sting
  • Apply honey
  • Apply calamine lotion or hydrocortisone cream.

Some of our customers recommend:
  • Rub an ice cube over the area till it is melted or the pain has gone away which might take two cubes! This method is so effective and seems to stop swelling and even the itchiness you get a few days later!
  • Chop an onion in half and pop it on the sting, it seems to draw out the nasty stuff.
  • Take Homeopathic Apis.
  • Apply vinegar straight away, followed by a kombucha scoby wrapped on to the sting.
  • distraction for a child can work a treat
Some information for this blog was research from and

Read 'Why Do Bees Sting'

Topics: , Health Articles

Sustainable Me Challenge - December

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

You might have guessed but this month's 'Sustainable Me Challenge' is a waste free holiday.  Can you believe the average household waste increases by 25% over the Christmas holiday period! Here's some ideas for reducing our gift-giving footprint this Christmas:

  • Furoshiki-586Buy second hand.  Our son wanted an expensive lego kit this year, so instead of spending mega bucks we've bought him a 2nd hand kit that looks as good and new for half the price.
  • Use alternative wrapping.  Fabric is great because it can be used over and over, not like paper that usually gets used once and thrown out.  Furoshiki is the Japanese art of wrapping with cloth, check out some great ideas, I'm definitely keen on trying this!
  • Don't buy over packaged products.  It really bugs me how over packaged toys and other items are these days.  It pays to think about the waste the gift may create and reduce where you can.
  • Make it yourself.   If you've got a little bit of spare time it's worth making something from the heart. Check out some ideas online, we've got some recipes for lip balm, perfume, etc.
  • Give experiences.   These are great, we do this with our parents now. It can be as simple as a movie ticket, theatre performance, concert or sporting event.  How about a voucher to go fishing, tramping, a picnic or even a service you could provide like to clean someones house!
  • Give consumables.  Everyone has to eat so give food, maybe something they wouldn't normally buy for themselves or you could bake them something special.
  • Give the gift of charity.  Make a donation to a charity in the name of your gift recipient, one that they would be happy with.
  • Ask before you buy.  It's important we buy something the person would like or will use, it's a shame when they just sit in a cupboard unused or thrown out because it was the wrong gift for them.

See the OSOF website to read more tips

Read more about:

Topics: , Enviromental

Orders Close 13th December!

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

We'll be busy beekeeping while everyone else is at the beach, over the holiday period, so we're sneaking away for a little break before Christmas.  Last orders for the year will be the 13th December, don't be disappointed and leave it too late!  

Christmas Orders Close off-498

Why Do Bees Sting?

Written by Stephanie on November 30th, 2017.      0 comments

bee sting
Have you ever been stung by a bee?  I think I have only been stung once when I was about 10 years old.  I still remember it clearly as if it was yesterday.  I was walking in the grass in my lovely red roman sandals at school and as I lifted by foot to walk a bee flew under my toes and as I stepped it stung me.  It gave me a huge fright and man did it sting!  I didn't get a reaction and I don't even remember how I got the sting out but from then on I was scared of bees and getting stung again.
Of course, after meeting Martin I have grown a new appreciation for bees and I am now comforted by the fact that a honey bee will rarely sting when it is away from its hive foraging for nectar or pollen.  The only reason a bee would sting someone is if they stepped on it or handled it roughly.  Bees will, however, attack intruders who are disturbing their hive.  Hence Martin has had hundreds of stings!  When a bee stings it also releases an ‘alarm pheromone’ to signal to other bees in the hive to attack.  This is one of the reasons why beekeepers use smokers when they are working hives, it covers up the alarm pheromones.  Because the worker bees release the alarm pheromone when threatened Martin is very careful not to crush or harm the bees when harvesting honey.

So my advice to you would be - don’t wave your arms around when a bee comes near you, just sit there quietly and still and when it realizes you are not a flower it will move on.  And if you are going to look into a beehive always wear a suit!

Here are some interesting facts about bees and their stings:

  • Bees are the only insect with a strongly barbed sting
  • As the sting lodges into the victim’s skin, it tears loose from the bee’s abdomen and the bee die within minutes
  • The female bees (the queen and the worker bees) are the only ones that sting
  • The queen’s stinger is smooth so can, therefore, sting over and over (but don’t worry she never leaves the hive unless she is swarming to find a new home)
  • A swarm of bees is not aggressive, they are just looking for a new home and have no honey or young to defend
  • The large drone bees do not have stingers
  • A bee sting consists of three parts – a stylus and two barbed sides

The next blog will give you some tips on what to do if you are stung.

Some information for this blog was research from and
Topics: , Bee Facts

Christmas Gift Buying Time!

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

Can you believe it's only six Fridays until Christmas! There are actually only five Fridays until our last courier delivery for the year!  So it's time to think about Christmas gifts.

Check out our gift range here!

Christmas Gifts Promo-89-462-757-44-717-209

Sustainable Me Challenge - November

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

Vegetable-Growing-228-91This month's 'Sustainable Me Challenge' is to grow something.  Most of our produce is trucked, shipped or flown and it accumulates greenhouse gas emissions with every kilometre travelled.  To help our environment we should at least buy local, where we can, and grow some of our own food.  

Here's What The Challenge Suggests:

Beginner: Buy local.  Look for NZ grown produce at the supermarket or visit your local farmer's market or farm shop.

Step it up: Plant something.  Start with strawberries, lettuce, spinach, herbs, etc

Want more? Grow more!  Challenge yourself t grow something new or grow everything you need for an entire meal.  Or if you're already a keen gardener help someone else set up a garden.

Every little bit helps!

See the OSOF website to read more tips

Read more about:

Topics: , Enviromental

Sustainable Me Challenge - October

Written by Stephanie on November 10th, 2017.      0 comments

red meat Wow, time is flying and I've just realised I haven't blogged about the 'Sustainable Me Challenge' for a while!

October's challenge was to eat less meat!  Kiwi's love meat, we are ranked 11th per capita for meat consumption.  We eat on average 106kgs per year.  And the problem?  The problem is that high levels of meat consumption impacts both our environment and our health.


Large-scale farming produces a huge amount of emissions, contributing significantly to global warming.  Runoff from animal waste enters soils, groundwater and rivers. Farming requires a lot of water use, apparently it takes 15,500 litres of water to produce just 1kg of beef!  Wow!  There is also an association between meat consumption and health problems such as heart disease, diabetes and colon cancer.

Here's What The Challenge Suggests:

Beginner: Join the Meat Free Monday campaign by eating vegetarian one day per week.

Step it up: Give up meat 3 or 4 days per week.

Want more? Try going fully vegetarian, mmm not sure how well that will go down in our house!

I think that if we can just be more conscious about how much meat we are eating, cut down on its consumption each meal and have at least 1 meatless meal a week it will make a different! 

See the OSOF website to read more tips

Read more about:

Topics: , Enviromental

Bee Swarms

Written by Stephanie on October 31st, 2017.      0 comments

Spring is the time of year when you are likely to see a few bee swarms.  For those that don't know much about swarms I thought I would explain what they are, why bees swarm and what to do if you have one turn up at your place.

Firstly, have a look at one of our beehives swarming!


What is a Swarm and Why do Bees Swarm?

Bee-SwarmMainly in springtime you may see a very large group of bees flying together or you may see a big clump (like a ball) of bees hanging from a branch, on a fence, against your house, or some other place.  This is a swarm of bees.  

A swarm is when a queen bee takes a large group of worker bees (usually about 50-60% of the hive) with her and leaves the hive to find a new home.  It is a natural means of reproduction for bee colonies.   A swarm of bees could consist of thousands to tens of thousands of bees.

The reason bees swarm could be due to one of these causes:
  • There are two queens in a hive so one takes half the bees out and finds another home
  • There are too many bees for one hive, a new queen is created and the old queen moves off with some of the bees
  • The bees are simply predisposed genetically to swarming (instinctive)

What to Do if You are in the Path of Moving Swarm:

Don't panic! Don't run!  Don't fling your arms around!  Just remember they will have filled up on honey before they left and will be docile and unable to sting.  But to be safe just crouch down low and stay still until they pass.

What to Do if you Have a Swarm on your Property:

Don't panic!  Don't touch them!  Don't spray them!  They will not harm you unless you harm them.

The best thing you can do is to get hold of a local beekeeper to come and collect it. There are hobby beekeeping clubs all around the country and they are often looking for swarms to fill new hives.

Look for a beekeeper in your area on the National Beekeepers Association website.  Or google a hobby beekeeper's club near you.  Here are some club websites:

Waikato Hobby Beekeeping Club
Auckland Beekeepers Club
Whangarei Beekeeping Club
Christchurch Hobbyist Beekeeping Club

There's actually a great list of hobby beekeeping clubs on the Kiwimana website, there might be one near you.  Hobby beekeepers are always on the scout out for new bee colonies!


Read More:

Why do bees sting?
Remedies for bee stings
Topics: , Bee Facts

Plastic Beehives!

Written by Stephanie on September 26th, 2017.      0 comments

Plastic beehiveI recently wrote about beekeepers using plastic frames for honey storage in beehives.  We avoid using these as we are concerned from a bee health point of view but also environmentally.  But it's not just the frames that are available in plastic, you can now buy full plastic beehives.  When the hive is at the end of its life what will happen to it?  I find it pretty concerning when there are so many people trying to avoid plastic use that industries are just coming up with more plastic ware!  Shouldn't manufacturers be coming up with smarter, more environmentally friendly options? Do they not care about the future of our planet?

It's not just at the end of the beehives life I'm concerned about.  If a beekeeper has American foulbrood (AFB) in their hive, the hive has to be burnt to eradicate it.  AFB is a disease of honey bee larvae and pupae. It wipes out an infected hive and is spread to other hives by the movement of contaminated hives and equipment, it's highly contagious.  It is pretty upsetting when you have to burn a hive but I think it would feel pretty bad watching the plastic burn.  Can you imagine what that does to the environment if beekeepers are burning plastic beehives and frames? I would love to see plastic beehives banned.  Just my personal opinion.

Purchase Sweetree honey with no plastic residue

Topics: , Plastic Free

What is the White Film on Beeswax Products?

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

Bloom-523-718Have you ever noticed a white film over beeswax products?  It's called a 'boom'.  It develops over time due to cold air crystallizing the beeswax oils. It disappears when the wax is put into the sun for a very short time.  If it is a sunny but cold day then wait until the air gets warmer to use the heat of the sun rays or carefully warm with a hairdryer, fan heater, etc. They will then be completely back to normal! 

Check out our beeswax products

Topics: , Products

Sustainable Me Challenge - September

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

This month's 'Sustainable Me' challenge is to reduce the harsh chemical cleaners in our homes with natural alternatives.

It's the time of year we give our houses a spring clean from top to bottom.  It's a good opportunity to use more natural cleaners that are better for our houses, our families and the aquatic life that are exposed to it once it's washed down the drain.  There are lots of natural alternatives out there now and available in the supermarkets or you might like to try baking soda and white vinegar!

Here's What The Challenge Suggests:

Beginner: If you’re wary of baking ingredients as household cleaners, maybe the best way to begin is with commercially available eco-friendly cleaning products such as those available through the Earthwise or Ecostore brands.

Step it up: Start simple and find one or two cleaning product to change over. Baking soda as a scrub for your sinks, counters and tubs is a great way to begin.

Want more? Ditch your chemical cleaners and go all natural. There are lots of internet resources available for someone who wants chemical free cleaners – see the resources section below for suggestions of where to begin.
Every little bit (or drop) helps!

See the OSOF website to read more tips

Read more about:

Check out the eco friendly items in our online store!
Topics: , Enviromental

September is Bee Aware Month

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

Bee Aware Month Logo-291This month is 'Bee Aware Month' in New Zealand the focus is on how important bees are for pollinating food and other products we consume.  

Why are Bees So Important?

Imagine the world without strawberries, kiwifruit, apples, nuts, chocolate or even denim jeans! These are all foods and products pollinated by bees!  Without bees, a huge 2/3 of our food would disappear.  

Bees around the world and especially in NZ cannot survive without our help, and in turn, we wouldn't survive without them.  Albert Einstein said, “If the Bee Disappeared Off the Face of the Earth, Man Would Only Have Four Years Left To Live".  So not only do bees produce a wonderful, natural food source, they also play a significant role in supporting our food chain.


How Can Everyone Help?

  • One of the easiest things we can do is to plant bee-friendly gardens both in urban and rural areas.  Bees need food so they can help pollinate our food.  Bees will forage on these flowers for nectar and pollen which provide carbohydrates and protein for growth and energy.  Well-nourished bees are more capable of fending off disease and parasites.
You can purchase wildflower seeds here that are proven bee favourites.

Topics: , Bee Facts

Plastic Avoided In The Production of Sweetree Honey

Written by Stephanie on August 23rd, 2017.      0 comments

Many people, including Martin and I, like to limit the purchase of food in plastic packaging.  People do this for various reasons but mainly for environmental or health motivations.  One way of limiting plastic is to purchase food in glass jars instead of plastic.  When we were deciding how to package our honey it had to be glass.  It is so much healthier, attractive and environmentally friendly.

But have you thought about how honey is stored before it goes into the jar?  In the beehive honey used to always be stored on beeswax comb foundation which was wired into a wooden frame.  But what is most commonly used now is plastic frames with plastic sheets embossed with hexagon indentations for the bees to work with as a foundation. The other common one is a wooden framing with a plastic insert foundation.  Here are some photos of what they look like.

plastic-foundation       Plastic-frame

The thing that concerns us about these is the possibility of plastic residue getting into the honey, the bees health working from a plastic foundation, let alone the environmental issue of what to do with the plastic frames and foundations when they are broken or past their best.  We was concerned to see all these plastic beehives (the whole hive in plastic) for sale at a beekeeping conference we recently attended.  That's a lot of plastic!  What will happen to them when they are finished with?  I guess they will end up in the landfill!

Sweetree's policy is to use wooden hive gear and frames with beeswax foundations wherever possible for our honey collection.
Beehive frame with beeswax foundation

Purchase Sweetree honey with no plastic residue

Topics: , About Sweetree , Plastic Free

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