Bees are fascinating creatures! Not only do they play a vital role in our eco system, they also provide us with honey.
Honey is one of the only complete life sustaining foods in the world. It is also the only food eaten by humans that is produced by insects. So next time you smear it on your toast spare a thought for the bees. Just one twelth of a teaspoon of honey is the sum total of one bees life work. Luckily for us each hive is home to nearly 50 000 bees.
What is really interesting is that bees are not born knowing how to make honey but are taught by the older bees. The knowledge of honey making is also being passed down the generations at Vitality Bee Products, a family run business based in the Waikato who produce the gorgeous Sweetree Honeys. Martin Lynch learnt all about bee keeping as a kid from his father and is now passing on this knowledge to his two sons Daniel (8) and Mathew (6).
Martin says that bee keeping as a hobby is quite easy to do, the main hurdle being that all beehives need to be registered to control diseases like Verona.
In 2003, when the family moved to a lifestyle block in Horsham Downs Martins hobby turned into a small business. The Lynch’s now have around 100 hives which produce 3-4 tonnes of honey and up to 400kgs of Bee pollen a year.
But honey is more than a sweet spread for your toast. For centuries honey has been a food revered for its healing properties and health benefits.
Unfortunately it is these great health benefits that are lost in most in commercial honeys due to over- heating and processing. Liquid honey is heated to such a high temperature that all the goodness is cooked out of it.
Sweetree honey is never heated over 40 degree C, or in other words any higher than would naturally occur in the beehive. Keeping the honey “raw” ensures all the amylases, the enzymes that digest carbohydrates as well as all the nutrients found in plant pollens remain intake.
The other great thing about Sweetree Honey is that their honeys display the great thing about Sweetree Honey is that their honeys display the great variation of flavour and colour derived from the specific apiary the honey from. Instead of combining all their honey from the 100 hives to create one homogenous blend the Lynch’s bottle each distinct variety creating several diverse honeys. Martin’s wife, Stephanie explains that “each apiary location has its own special nuance and character and this is reflected in the honey when you come to taste it.”
Think of it like wine. You could buy a cheap blended cask wine but wouldn’t you prefer a bottle of beautifully cared for Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot where the grapes specific characters as well as the terroir of where that grape is grown are brought out in all their glory! Sweetree honey comes from three different areas in the Waikato; Horsham Downs, Marokopa and Four Brothers Reserve (between Hamilton & Raglan)