Our key consideration has always been to reduce and minimize our impact on the environment. Our raw honey is packed into glass jars as opposed to plastic, which not only looks great but allows for reuse or recycling.
Many beekeepers use plastic frames in beehives as they are cheaper and more robust. However most of these frames end up in landfill or may inadvertently be burnt due to being infected with American Foulbrood. We have continued to use the traditional wooden frames with recycled beeswax comb foundation. These materials are also preferred by the bees!
Fuel is a considerable cost and source of carbon emissions for many beekeepers who travel long distances. Over the last few years we have substantially reduced our fuel use by locating our apiary sites closer to our home base. Our longest trip was 3 hours one way and this is now just 35 minutes. We also use an electric car to transport our products to stores and markets.
Our latest investigation has been into our jars and labels to identify if we can use glass jars either made in NZ or from a supplier that uses clean energy for production. Our labels are recyclable as a soft plastic, other labels are made with layers of different materials that can’t be recycled.
Our bees help the environment in many ways, for example, our Hamilton City Honey (Kirikiriroa) contributes to the Hamilton City area. At the Hamilton Farmers Market, many locals tell us they don’t have any bees in their gardens and they would be very keen to have some. In the height of summer we now add 1,500,000 bees into the city, each with a 5km flight range, and we are very pleased to be working with Council to make some contribution to improving biodiversity and nature in the city.
Julie Hardaker, the city’s previous Mayor, said the partnership with Sweetree Honey emphasis Council’s commitment to protecting the city’s natural environment while promoting public-private partnerships. “Hamilton is known for its green spaces and this is a great match. Bees pollinate an estimated 70 per cent of our food crops, so gardeners near these three locations will benefit as well,” Mayor Hardaker says.
Hamilton Zoo’s ex Director Stephen Standley says the hives are a welcome addition to the Zoo’s biodiversity. They are proud to be part of a combined effort with Hamilton Gardens and Taitua Arboretum to produce a quality product for people to buy, and the sweet treat is also given to the zoo’s honey-eating birds such as the tui as well as primates.