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.


How to Prevent Seasonal Allergies

Written by Stephanie on August 8th, 2020.      0 comments

sneezeSpring is just around the corner!  Yeah - more daylight hours, flowers blooming and birds singing.  More time to spend in the garden and playing outside with the kids.  But for hay fever sufferers spring can be a dreaded time!  Sneezing, watery eyes, itchy throat, coughing, itchy nose, blocked/runny nose.  During this time many people stock up on tissues and run to the chemist to grab antihistamine, sometimes even antihistamine isn't enough.  It's no fun at all!

In spring hay fever can be triggered by tree and grass pollen.  There are two types of flower pollen. One is very light and is easily airborne, this light pollen causes allergies. The second pollen is heavier, it is collected by bees and made into bee pollen.

Did you know that research indicates that if you take small amounts of bee pollen from your local area a few months before the hay fever season your body may become desensitised to the airborne pollens.  It works like a vaccination does against childhood diseases. Desensitisation is based on the idea that the taking of the bee pollen will cause the body to produce antibodies that will cancel out the effects of the air-born pollen when the person is exposed to it again.  See below this blog for more details on research in the area.

Some of our customers have commented that their allergies have lessened when either taking Sweetree Bee Pollen or Honey.  Our honey is not finely filtered and therefore retain a high pollen count.  So to help with your hay fever symptoms try either taking bee pollen every day or raw honey from your local area. Sweetree produces bee pollen in the Horsham Downs area and honey from Hamilton, Horsham Downs, Raglan, Ngaurwahia and Marokopa areas. 

If you feel you need something more to protect you against allergies see a health professional.  You may want to see your doctor, pharmacy, herbalist, Chinese medicine therapist, Naturopath, etc.  Personally I love to visit the friendly team down at the Herbal Shop and Clinic (cnr Ohaupo Road & Lorne St in Hamilton).  Check links below for some herbalists / health shops in your area.  They will give you a brew specific for your needs!  I love this holistic approach to nourishing, healing and protecting your body.

Breath easy this spring!

The Herb Shop & Clinic, Hamilton
 

Purchase Sweetree Bee Pollen

Purchase Sweetree Honey

 

bee-with-pollenFB-378

 

 

Beehive Boxes Repurposed into Beautiful Art!

Written by Stephanie on August 7th, 2020.      0 comments

Nothing goes to waste here!  Even our old beehive boxes get a new lease of life by local artist Claudia Aalderink.  Claudia takes rustic, weathered, and colourful beehive boxes, along with found materials such as wine barrel rings, pallet straps, and anything usable and transforms them into unique and one of a kind pieces of art.  I've never met anyone who can take a basic discarded item and create such beauty like this before.

We love that the materials that could have ended up in the fire pile or landfill, are repurposed, recycled and reused in such an artistic and functional way.  Thanks so much Claudia for your inspiration!

Check out Claudia's latest piece below, you can see Martin likes to write little notes on the outside of the boxes eg 'Ohui'. 
 
Claudia takes commissions for any size work, check out Claudia's websitelike on Facebook and/or follow on Instagram.

Find out more about Ohui
Beehive-Art-Ohui-548
 

How is Sweetree Honey Processed?

Written by Stephanie on July 27th, 2020.      0 comments

Sweetree raw honey is extracted by cutting the wax cappings off each wooden honey frame, they are then placed into a spinner, where the centrifugal force extracts the honey from the frames.  We then cream our honey, this is to ensure that your honey does not granulate (look sugary) and it maintains a consistent texture.  During this process the only thing that is added is a fine-grained natural honey, this is used like a starter to start the creaming process.  The honey is then stirred and left to cream over a few days.  We manually pack the honey into re-usable glass jars.

Our honey is not heat-treated or pasteurised.  You can be confident that Sweetree Honey has not been damaged by heating or finely filtered.  It still retains the enzymes, antibacterial qualities, and high pollen counts naturally occurring in the honey.  
 

Check out Sweetree's range of honeys


honey on spoon
 

Plastic Free July: Reducing Packaging

Written by Stephanie on July 4th, 2020.      0 comments


Monthly-PlasticThe 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
  • Say no to the bags that shops give to carry your goods, see Limit Plastic Bag Use, and take your own cloth bags instead.
  • Choose items in glass, paper, cardboard, etc as opposed to plastic
  • Buy nuts, dried fruit, flour, legumes, coffee, rice, oats, etc from bulk bins using cloth 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)
  • Avoid over packaged products, go for products with the least plastic packaging
  • Go for reusable options where you can, eg refilling containers, refillable toner cartridges, etc
  • Purchase from a Farmers Market or farm shop and take your own cloth bags
  • Store food in the fridge in a non-plastic container, in a bowl with a plate on the top or cover or wrap them in HoneyWraps or you make your own bowl covers
  • Make or buy fresh bread from the bakery and pop into a cloth bag, you can make your own
  • Wrap cheese in an old linen towel or HoneyWrap
  • Learn the art of furoshiki gift wrapping, it's fun!
  • Use reusable lunch boxes and wrap in HoneyWraps rather than plastic food wrap for lunches and snacks
  • Use newspaper to line your rubbish bin instead of a plastic bag - check out this website for more details
  • Instead of using plastic bags when walking the dog use newspaper to wrap up their business
  • Use paper rubbish sacks
  • Use glass or stainless steel drink bottles and reusable travel coffee mugs
  • Don't use plastic straws; don't use straws at all or use stainless steel straws
  • Use wooden toothbrushes and biogegradable dental floss
  • Make the most of bamboo and other natural fibre products!  You can purchase sustainable dish brushes, etc from EcoWarehouse or dish scrubs made from coconut husks.
  • 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!

See other blogs on this topic:


Check out our range of plastic-free products - 30 % off

 

Plastic Free July: Plastic Free Shopping

Written by Stephanie on July 3rd, 2020.      0 comments

Here are some tips for limiting plastic when you are shopping this Plastic Free July.

 

EnviroSax-Oriental-Spice-Bag-4-542-569

General:

  • Say no to the plastic bags that shops give to carry your goods, see Limit Plastic Bag Use, always have a folded up bag or two in your handbag
  • Choose items in glass, paper, cardboard, etc as opposed to plastic
  • Avoid over-packaged products, go for products with the least plastic packaging
  • Go for reusable options where you can, eg refilling containers, refillable toner cartridges, etc


Food:EnviroSax-Oriental-Spice-Bag-4-Folded-31

  • Take your own containers for deli and butcher items, there are more us doing this now so you might not be the first for your butcher, you can do it
  • Buy loose fruit and veggies and not the ones pre-packaged, use your own cloth produce bags.
  • 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
  • Buy wine with natural corks
  • Give up chewing gum (would you believe chewing gum has plastic!)
  • Buy loose tea leaves instead of tea bags, they also have plastic in them, let alone the plastic they wrap the boxes in
  • Grow your own veggies and fruit
Plastic Wrapped veges and fruit-607
Avoid pre-packaged items

Rethink-Produce-Full-26
Use cloth alternatives
 
                    

Cleaning Supplies:

  • Make your own cleaning products, there are lots of websites with recipes but check out Wendyl Nissen's recipes
  • Take your own reusable containers to refill at bulk buying shops such as Bin Inn
  • Use cleaning clothes such as Enjo, no other products are required
 

Bathroom Items:

             

See other blogs on this topic:


Check out our range of plastic free products - 30% off!

 

Plastic Free July: Plastic Free Meals on the Go

Written by Stephanie on July 2nd, 2020.      0 comments

Here are some tips for limiting plastic when you are eating and drinking on the go this Plastic Free July.

 

When Eating Out:

  • Take your own containers when ordering takeaways from somewhere that uses plastic (eg Indian), or find a takeaway joint that used eco-friendly packaging
  • Take your own container/s to restaurants for any leftovers
  • Carry reusable utensils such as bamboo or your own stainless steel cutlery from home when eating at places like food halls and when eating takeaways away from home.
 

Drinking on the Go:JOCO-12oz-vintage-green-974

  • Keep a reusable travel mug in your car at all times, as soon as it's been washed put in straight back in before you forget
  • Keep a reusable coffee mug on your desk at work
  • If you're going for a takeaway coffee while at work and have forgotten your reusable mug just grab one from the staff room
  • If  you forget your reusable mug when ordering a coffee ask for 'no lid'
  • Carry a reusable water bottle with you at all times or use a glass at your desk instead of the plastic cups
  • Say no to a straw when ordering cold drinks or carry stainless steel straws with you.
 

Snacking on the Go:

  • When ordering ice cream choose a cone over a tub
  • Look for a local sausage sizzle
  • Buy from bakeries, cafes, etc that use paper as opposed to plastic bags
  • Choose food that isn't pre-wrapped.
  • Take your own snacks in a non-plastic container or wrap them in honey wraps.


Plastic Free Travelling Kit:

It's best to be prepared in advance, then you never get caught out.  Have a kit set up in your car ready to go!  I've set up a kit that has:

  • Enamel cups
  • Cutlery, in a pencil case
  • Containers for sushi, food court, or doggy bag food. I love the U-Konserve stainless steel ones, they are so versatile. 
  • Stainless steel straws
  • Fabric serviettes
  • And of course, there's always a picnic blanket in the boot just in case.
Meals-on-the-go-kete
 
 

Plastic Free July: Limiting Plastic Bag Use

Written by Stephanie on July 1st, 2020.      0 comments

This month is Plastic Free July.  We're going to give you some tips on how to be plastic-free.  It's great that plastic bags are banned at the counter now but there is still plenty of plastic we can avoid when shopping.
 

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 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.  
  • EnviroSax-Oriental-Spice-Bag-2-162Use 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.
  • Use newspaper to line your rubbish bin instead of a plastic bag - check out this website for more details or even go liner-free like we now are.  Buy paper rubbish sacks instead of the plastic ones from your supermarket, they are surprisingly 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.


Check out the plastic-free items in our online store - 30% off!

 

What Do The Manuka Honey Ratings Mean?

Written by Stephanie on June 28th, 2020.      0 comments

Manuka rating labels can be so confusing! But to ensure you purchase real manuka honey you do need to understand them. Look for the following ratings, just having 'active' or 'bioactive' on a label is not a true indication it is pure manuka honey.


Non-Peroxide Activity (NPA)

Only manuka honey has NPA. This non-peroxide activity is rated to signify the level of antibacterial strength. The higher the rating the higher the activity and therefore the greater the healing power (just like SPF in sunscreen is an indicator of sun protection). Generally, a rating of 0-4 is undetected, 5-9 is used for maintenance, 10-14 for therapeutic usage and 15+ has very high activity levels for therapeutic usage.
 

Unique Manuka Factor (UMF)

Unique Manuka Factor is a branding that is generally affordable for large commercial operators and provides an assurance to overseas customers that testing for activity meets international requirements. The test for this rating is NPA (as discussed above), for example a 5+UMF is the same at 5+ NPA.

 

Methylglyoxal (MG or MGO)

is disagreement within the industry on the consistent reliability of NPA results and therefore methylglyoxal testing is now required. Methylglyoxal is the active ingredient responsible for the non-peroxide antibacterial activity in Manuka honey. It is a naturally occurring and stable compound that can be consistently and reliably tested. Methylglyoxal does correlate to NPA, the higher the MG rating the higher the NPA rating.
 
Active Label-16mm-F-12 -241-107-170  

This label shows an example of the NPA and MG ratings on one label, the 12+ is the NPA rating.
 

 
Here's an example of some comparisons:

 
Methylglyoxal (MG) Non Peroxide Activity / UMF, approx equivalent
83 5+
146 7+
356 12+
829 20+
1200 25+

Methylglyoxal is the new industry marker for antibacterial activity, so you will see this on most manuka honey labels, or UMF for those that pay for the UMF branding.
 
 

What's the Difference Between Mono-Floral and Multi-Floral Manuka?

Written by Stephanie on June 25th, 2020.      0 comments

Manuka labels can be so confusing!  But I'm going to try and demystify that for you.  Let's start with mono-floral and multi-floral manuka.


Mono-Floral MMonofloral ManukaMG139-167-126-554anuka

Mono-floral honey comes from a single flower source. Mono-floral manuka honey means that the bees predominately foraged on manuka flowers, therefore it's a more pure manuka honey.


 

Multi-FlMultifloral ManukaMG104-775-236oral Manuka

Muti-flora honey is from a mix of flower sources. For a manuka honey to be labeled as 'multi-floral manuka it means that there are other floral sources in the honey as well as manuka.


This year our bees feasted on manuka and kanuka at our Four Brothers Reserves apiary site and the honey has been tested as a multi-floral manuka with an MG104 activity.  Check it out.

We also have a mono-floral Ohui Manuka honey with an MG139 activity.  Check that out.

More on what the 'activity' ratings mean in my next blog post.

 

4Bros MultFloral Manuka-940-314-184-805

 

 

Cold & Flu Remedy

Written by Stephanie on June 24th, 2020.      0 comments

One of our boys is home with a sore throat. This is my go-to recipe when anyone has cold or flu symptoms, it works wonders!
 

Honey & Lemon Cold RemedyIngredients

  • 2 lemons
  • 2 cm root ginger
  • 10 - 20 ml high-quality Echinacea tincture*
  • clove of garlic (optional)
  • 1 - 2 Tbsp Sweetree raw honey
 

Method

  1. Grate rind of lemons and ginger root, crush garlic, and pour 1 litre of boiling water over and leave to steep for 10 minutes (or longer).
  2. Add lemon juice and strain.
  3. Add Echinacea and honey, stir to dissolve.
  4. Drink the entire brew over the course of a day. Keep it in a thermos to keep it warm.

Note:

Use less Echinacea if you want a preventative brew, and a higher dose if you feel you are coming down with a cold or flu or you already have one. 
You can also add more garlic, just chew parsley to get the smell off your breath. (Parsley is also high in vitamin C for fighting infections).

* You can get Echinacea from most health shops, pharmacies, your local herbalist or herbal dispensary.  

Created by Helen Donnison- Medical Herbalist and Naturopath, Hamilton
 

Purchase Sweetree honey 

 

What's So Special About Manuka Honey??

Written by Stephanie on June 22nd, 2020.      0 comments

Honey is one of the oldest known sweeteners.  It has been an essential part of our diet since the earliest times and there is increased interest in its culinary and health properties.  Not only is it delicious to eat, but honey is also hailed for its medicinal properties – it is anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-fungal, and packed with highly valuable nutrients.

manuka flower-507All honey has some naturally occurring antibacterial qualities (peroxide activity).  This is due to the high levels of sugar in the honey, therefore fewer water molecules, which makes it hard for bacteria to grow. Hydrogen Peroxide can easily be damaged by light and heat.  This is one of the reasons why at Sweetree Honey we are very careful not to damage our honey with heat, so all our honey retain some antibacterial properties.

Some Manuka honey has a special healing quality that occurs when the bee takes manuka nectar and adds a honey ripening enzyme as they are storing the honey in the hive.   This healing quality has a special antibacterial activity, it gives a wider range and greater antibacterial power and allows the honey to absorb deeper into human tissue.  This special component is only found in NZ Manuka and Australian Jellybush honey.  In New Zealand it's been know as 'active Manuka honey'.
 
Manuka honey is a truly amazing natural, therapeutic food that can be used to heal internally and externally.   It is highly effective in treating wounds, burns, acne, ringworm, and other skin conditions. Consumed regularly manuka honey can help relieve joint pain, improve sore throats, coughs, colds, relieve stomach ulcers, lower blood pressure, nourish & heal skin, and increase immunity to sustain great health, naturally.
 

Read more about Manuka Honey

 

Check out Sweetree's manuka honey


 
 

Yes Our Online Store Is Open During Lockdown

Written by Stephanie on March 29th, 2020.      0 comments

Beekeeping and Honey Processing Is Essential Business


Beekeepers are essential businesses for bee welfare and / or processing food.  So yes we can still send orders from our online store during the lockdown period.

Our industry, as part of the Agriculture sector, has been granted a dispensation to provide the essential ongoing care of our bees who play a critical role in our rural ecosystem for both horticulture and pasture feed, and furthermore as a food producer, enabling packers to continue processing honey.  There are strict protocols we must follow to continue our licence to operate. 

MPI has stated that all essential services must change the way that they operate to minimise the risk of spreading the virus. This means that in order to continue operating, all beekeeping businesses, no matter what size, will have to develop protocols to ensure the virus cannot be spread in your working environment, but also that staff are observing all safety guidelines when they are not at work.


How Will Sweetree Work During the Lockdown?


Luckily our business is based from home so is in self isolation with us, and in our bubble is only Martin, myself and our two teenage boys.  We are all healthy and put ourselves into isolation from Monday 23rd March to keep our family and business safer from the virus.  

When sending out orders we will be using clean disposable gloves and face masks.  There will be only one person handling your order until the courier picks it up from our property.  Because we can't guarantee the outside packaging after it's been through the courier processing we suggest you either wear gloves opening your order or wash your hands a soon as the package is open.

If anyone in our bubble is feeling unwell or has any mild symptoms (even just tickly throat) they will not be processing any orders or be anywhere near the Sweetree products.

You can be rest assured we will do our best to send you quality and safe products.  If you have any questions at all please don't hesitate to contact us.
 

Purchase safely from our Online Store


Martin-at-Ohui
 
 

Great News - We Won Silver!

Written by Stephanie on March 29th, 2020.      0 comments

We've had a little bit of good news at this unsettling time. We entered our Sweetree Four Brothers Reserve honey in the Outstanding NZ Food Producer Awards and won a SILVER medal!  

These awards celebrate Kiwis who harvest, grow and make food and drinks.  All products were judged on quality, taste, consistency, visual appearance, packaging, innovation, point of difference, sustainable practices and story behind the product. We were up against a lot of other products from 'the earth' such as other honeys, spreads, condiments, loaves, crackers, nuts, etc.

Sweetree Honeys with award-78

Outstanding-Foor-Producer-Awards-Silver

Judging this year was made on the following criteria:

Product: Aroma, flavour, consistency, quality, visual appearance, innovation, innovation (75%).

Sustainability: Sustainable business practices in producing the product (15%). 

Brand Story / Originality: The story of your brand, how you got here, where you’re going, what makes your product original and demonstrates your passion. Packaging, if applicable, is also considered as part of this score. (10%).

Judges' comments: A very smooth and enjoyable honey. Just delicious.

Sustainable judges feedback: Good environmental story: local honey business with a focus on biodiversity. Good consideration of packaging (glass) and the supply chain. EV for transport. Next steps to progress to goal to become carbon neutral (consideration of energy etc). Impressive work with the council to populate bee population. Work with the community. 

Find out more about our Four Brothers Reserve honey!

 

Supply Water for Bees

Written by Stephanie on February 18th, 2020.      1 comments

Summer is an important time of year to ensure the bees have plenty of water to drink, even more so with the continued dry period we're having.  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.

Drinking-Bees-557
 

Wash Your Face with Honey!

Written by Stephanie on January 18th, 2020.      0 comments

Are you like me and have a daily routine of cleansing, toning and moisturising your face?  Or is it your new years resolution to start taking care of your skin?  Either way why not give honey a go!  You can save a lot of money and look after your skin at the same time by cleansing your face with honey.
  
Pop about a teaspoon or so of Sweetree Honey into the palm of your hand, add a touch of water and massage it over your face, then let it sit for a while.  Of course it is sticky so you need to make sure you pull back your hair!  Then rinse it off.  It's quick and easy to do and feels great afterwards!  

Honey is also good at dissolving makeup, especially when mixed with a dash of coconut or jojoba oil and mix in a little bit of turmeric or nutmeg.  Mix this into a balm type texture that is slippery enough to slide across your face.  Massage this over your face and it will loosen up heavy makeup and moisturise your skin at the same time.

Give it a try!
Face-Washing
 

Why is Honey so Good for your Skin?

  1. It is antibacterial and antimicrobial, so it is great for acne treatment and prevention
  2. It is slightly drying, so it will help soak up any pimples or oiliness.
  3. It soaks into your skin and is extremely moisturizing and soothing. It helps create a glow on your skin.
  4. Full of beneficial enzymes and antioxidants that can help with anti-aging.
  5. It’s great for acne, aging skin, normal skin, dry skin … honey loves every type of skin
  6. It is healing and helps repair sores and scars.
  7. It’s 100% natural and great for your skin!
Give it a try and let me know what you think!

Check out Sweetree's range of honeys.
 
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Read our blog to keep up to date with what we are up to!
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What do our customers say?

"This honey so delicious!  It taste just like when I was a kid, rather than the supermarket brands"  Anna Bradford, Rotorua
Read more customer feedback