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.

Products of the Hive: Bee Venom

Written by Stephanie on June 24th, 2016.      0 comments

Bee venom is a bitter, clear, odourless liquid that is injected by bees when they sting you.  A honeybee can inject 0.1 mg of venom via its stinger.

bee stingHow is Bee Venom Collected?

As the sting lodges into the victim’s skin it tears loose from the bee’s abdomen and the bee dies within minutes.  Because of this I have always wondered how producers of bee venom actually collect the venom without the bees dying.  

In the past unfortunately bees were killed in the process of collected venom but nowadays they insert glass plates with electrodes stretched across them.  Bees that touch the wires are delivered a mild shock that agitates the bee and makes it sting.  the venom is dropped onto the plate and the bee's stinger stays intact, allowing the bee to fly away seemingly unhurt.  When a bee stings it also releases an ‘alarm pheromone’ to signal to other bees in the hive to attack, so when the first bee stings other bees in the hive do the same and more venom is collected. 


Reported Benefits of Bee Venom:

Bee venom is known for it's anti-inflammatory affects and research suggests it may be helpful for arthritis suffers.  Bee venom therapy is becoming a popular treatment to relieve chronic and autoimmune conditions. They say beekeepers never get arthritis because they are always getting stung.  We do not recommend you try and get stung to relief your arthritis.  Have a chat to your doctor!

Bee venom creams and masks have become renowned for anti-aging properties and it's known as 'nature's botox'.  There are a raft of famous women using it including Kate Middleton!  Bee venom skincare reported benefits include:
  • improved texture of skin
  • reduced lines and wrinkles
  • improved skin firmness
  • reduction of pores
  • reduced pigmentation and sun damage

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

Products of the Hive: Royal Jelly

Written by Stephanie on June 10th, 2016.      0 comments

Royal jelly, is also called 'bee milk, is a white creamy substance containing water, proteins, nutrients and sugars.  The worker bees produces royal jelly and secrete it from glands in their hands, which is then feed to the babies in the hives.  All other babies also received bee pollen and honey as part of their diet but the queen baby is feed exclusively on royal jelly.

Royal Fresh-Royal-Jelly-839-340 jelly, with it's special proteins, is responsible for giving the queen bee a long, long life plus an elegant and large body, which make her very fertile.  She is the only honeybee in the hive biologically destined to lay thousands of eggs, becoming a dedicated egg machine during her four years of life (the worker bees live for 10-12 weeks).

Royal jelly contains and impressive array of nutrients including calcium, copper, iron, phosphorous, silicon, potassium, B vitamins, biotin, inositol, folate, nucleic acids, gamma globulin and amino acids.

Reported Benefits of Royal Jelly:

They say royal jelly is the secret of eternal youth!  Some other benefits of taking royal jelly include:
  • Improves blood pressure
  • High in antioxidants
  • Blood Sugar control
  • Beneficial effects on osteoporosis and bone loss
  • Anti-flammatory
  • Immune Modulator
  • Improves the appearance of skin
  • Decreases 'bad' cholesterol
  • Increases fertility
  • Keeps your metabolism running smoothy
  • Aids weight loss

Check out the Royal Jelly Capsules we sell on our website!

This blog article includes exerts from 'Honey Nature's Golden Healer' available on our website.

Products of the Hive: Propolis

Written by Stephanie on May 20th, 2016.      0 comments

Trees produce resins and gums to protect themselves against insect or fungi attacks.  Bees are ingenious because they scrap the sticky resins and gums then add wax and some saliva turning into an amazing product called propolis.  They carry it in their pollen sacks, on the back of their legs, and take it back to the hive.  Propolis mаkes аn excellent wаterproof fіlm whіch аlso hаs аntіbаcterіаl аnd аntіfungаl propertіes.

The colour varies, depending on it's source, it can be gray, tans, shades of brown or nearly black.

Bees use Propolis in the Hive to:

  • block up holes and cracks
  • as an antiseptic
  • guard the hive against disease
  • polish the inside of the brood cells
  • wrap dead insects and animals, dead mice can be found completely sealed in propolis like a mummy
  • smear it on rough places in the hive to make it easier for them to move around and protect their delicate wings
  • reduce the size of the entrance to the hive

Aren't they amazing creatures!  Here's some photos.

propolis on bee-275    propolis and bee-836
   Bee with propolis in it's pollen sacks                    Bee working the propolis in the hive

Human uses for Propolis:

Bee propolis has been used for centuries for healing, it invigorates the immune system and is highly effective at fighting infection and viruses. It has proven remarkably successful again influenza viruses, when taken before the virus takes hold. 

It is well known for use in oral hygiene and healing of mouth complaints (including ulcers).  A few years ago we meet an elderly beekeeper in Canada who was proud he still had all his teeth and his teeth and gums were very healthy.  He put it down to adding a couple of drops of propolis tincture in his coffee every morning!  It would be great for a mouth wash.

Becuase of it's powerful antiseptic qualities propolis is perfect for healing cuts, sore, etc and has been reported to have a dramatic effect on cold sores and shingles.

Propolis is available in many forms these days, it can be found in a tincture, creams / balms, lozenges, toothpaste, mouth sprays, etc.  Keep them in your cupboard as a safe and effective healer, germ-buster and rapid rescue treatment for all different types of skin tissue, whether inside or outside the body.

You can purchase these propolis products from Sweetree:


Products of the Hive: Honey

Written by Stephanie on May 13th, 2016.      0 comments

Honey is one of the oldest known sweeteners.  It has been an essential part of our diet since earliest times and there is increased interest in its culinary and health properties.  But what is honey?  How is it made?  How is it extracted from the hive? What is it good for?

What is Honey?

Honey is a thick, golden liquid created by hard working honey bees from nectar they collect from flowers.  Honey  is a solution naturally occurring elements found in the nectar such as sugars and water, along with amino acids, organic acids, proteins, lipids, anti-oxidants, dextrins and minerals.  Honey also contains a number of different enzymes that bees add to the nectar that make it that special and unique product we love so much.

How is Honey Made?

Bee-on-orange-flower1During warm sunny days bees move from flower to flower collecting a sugary liquid, nectar, produced by each flower.   A foraging bee will use it's long proboscis to suck the liquid from the flower and store it in it's honey stomach (this a special extra stomach just for storing nectar) until it gets back to the hive.  While the nectar is in the honey stomach it mixes with enzymes that change its chemical make up.

When back at the hive the forager bee transfers the honey to a young working bee.  This bee can chew on the nectar for about half an hour, adding more enzymes to break down the complex sugars and turn them into simple sugars.  These simple sugars make it easier for the bees to digest and will decrease the risk of the honey going off. This is the reason why honey can last for a very long time.  

The bee then deposits the honey into a honeycomb cell.  The bees in the hive fan the honey in the cells with their wings to evaporate excess moisture.  When the honey is at the correct moisture content the bees seal the honey with wax from their abdomens, this is called 'capping'.  To find out how bees make beeswax read our blog on beeswax.  Bees save this honey for eating during times of shortage. 

An interesting fact is that a bee's honey stomach can hold up to 70mg of nectar, it weighs just about as much as the bee does.  A bee would need to visit between 100 - 1500 flowers to fill their honey stomach.  


How is the Honey Extracted?​

Beekeepers normally have beehives with frames inside that the bees draw out beeswax comb into cells for storing honey.  Once the frames are filled with honey the the frames are taken out of the hive and the wax cap pings cut off to expose the honey in the cells.  The honey can then either be pressed or placed in a centrifuge to spin the honey out.  Honey can then be packed or creamed then packed.

capping-544          honey extractor-879
Cutting the 'capping' off a frame of honey                           Extracting honey by centrifuge 

Honey's taste, aroma, colour and texture differ considerably depending on the type of flowers the bees of that hive visit.  And of course the type of trees and plants that grow in each region of the country differ depending on a variety of factors such as climate, soil type and temperature, altitude, humidity and geographical location.  At Sweetree we don't blend honey from different areas, so each of our honeys are a true reflection of that area's flora.  Much like a great wine reflects the terroir of where the grapes have grown, Sweetree Honey’s different varieties reflect the area and season the bees worked their magic.  From the buttery and salted toffee apple taste of of Marokopa Spring to the gorgeous caramel and butterscotch flavour of the Hakarimata.


What is Honey Good for?

Of course, as mentioned at the start of this blog, honey is one of the oldest known sweeteners.  Have a look at our many recipes using honey.  There are many different uses for honey, read our blog, you may be surprised at some of the uses!  Not only is it delicious to eat, honey is hailed for its medicinal properties – it is anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-fungal and packed with highly valuable nutrients.  It is used in medical bandages, cough mixtures, throat lozenges, on sores, burns, etc.  It is also fantastic for our skin, have a read about how you can add it to your skin regime.

Check out Sweetree's range of Waikato honeys here


Products of the Hive: Bee Pollen

Written by Stephanie on April 29th, 2016.      0 comments

beeWhat is Bee Pollen?

Pollen is the male seed of flowers and is required to fertilise the plant.  As the bee moves from one flower to another it collects flakes of pollen and combines these with nectar, this is then moved to the pollen baskets on its back legs for storage, while it continues to collect.  The remarkable thing is that bees start the pollination process without even realising t!  Pollen stuck on the hairs along the bee's body is rubbed from one plant to another starting the fertilisation process. 

The pollen is taken back to the hive as a granule of bee pollen.  The bees off-load the pollen granules, groom away any pollen flakes stuck to their bodies and store it in cells near the brood area (where the queen lays eggs).  Bee pollen is a vital source of protein and fats for bees and is fed to the youngest bees as a high protein source.

Benefits of Bee Pollen

Bee pollen is an incredible natural source of nutrients, vitamins and minerals.  Studies have shown that it has a nutritional composition that surpasses that of virtually any food eaten.  Regular consumption of bee pollen aids your general health and well-being.  Just some of the benefits reported of our Sweetree Bee Pollen are: Sustained energy, enhanced immunity, reduced stress, relief of inflammation, more rested sleep and better skin condition.

Studies have also shown that taking bee pollen improves prostate conditions, reduces harmful effects of x-rays and results in fewer side effects from radiation treatment.

Bee pollen is often used by athletes to improve strength, endurance, energy and speed.  It is said to help muscles recover more quickly from exercise and to increase mental stamina. Many great athletes have enjoyed its benefits and find it enhances their performance and decreases downtime due to illness.

How to Eat Bee Pollen

Bee pollen is often thought of as a dietary supplement but is much more than that.  It is one of nature’s best super foods.  Bee pollen can be added to food, many of our customers sprinkle it on their cereal in the morning.  Some add it to yoghurt, smoothies or ice-cream.
Try these ideas:
  • Add bee pollen to a dish of ice cream and hot chocolate sauce
  • Place bee pollen onto a piece of tin foil then take a peeled banana and roll it into the bee pollen and toasted coconut.
  • Add a tablespoon of bee pollen to beef casseroles or beef stir-fries
  • Add bee pollen to salsa, home-made salad dressing and sandwiches
  • Can be sprinkled on your favourite cereal, fruit or yoghurt to provide a tasty and nutritious supplement to your diet
  • You can also spread it on toast with honey.
  • Mix bee pollen, chai seeds and cinnamon together with mashed banana and yoghurt (any flavour) and spread on raisin toast.  Very yummy breakfast.
  • If you are not that fussed on the flavour you can simply take it in a spoon and chase with water or juice. 

See our recipes for more ideas!

Purchase Sweetree Bee Pollen


Products of the Hive: Beeswax

Written by Stephanie on April 8th, 2016.      0 comments

beeswax-makingBeeswax is a remarkable by product of honey.  Beeswax is made by the youngest honey bees in a colony, they are too young to forage for nectar.  To produce the wax they gorge themselves on honey and link themselves together by the hundreds.   After several hours wax starts to flow from pockets in their abdomens.  Each bee then scrapes off the wax with their legs and chews it into soft pellets.  They then use these pellets to make perfectly engineered honeycomb cells.  The hexagon shape used is the most efficient storage structure ever developed by any species, including humans.

Beeswax is a very versatile product and is used to make candles, furniture polish, skin care, balms, soaps, earplugs, ear candles, crayons, food wraps, as an ingredient in sweets, a cover for cheeses and more.

Did you know that burning beeswax produces negative ions that circulate in the room and attract pollutants and clean your air?  Many people report that burning a beeswax candle in your bedroom 30 minutes before falling asleep produces a more restful sleep.


Here's some beeswax products that we sell on our website:


Products from the Hive

Written by Stephanie on April 7th, 2016.      0 comments

Bees are amazing creatures!  They create so many products from their hives that humans have used for centuries for food and health.  They are:
  • frameBees wax
  • Propolis
  • Honey
  • Bee Pollen and Bee Bread
  • Royal Jelly
  • Bee Venom

Over the next little while I will be blogging about each one of these products.  I will be explaining how the bees make each one, their benefits and uses for each.  The first one will be beeswax, so look out for the blog soon!

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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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