Saturday, 30 July 2016


Propolis from bees

Our bees are making rich orange propolis by the bucket load. Here is a box in the 'winter scrape down processing department' and the orange dribbles are leftover propolis.

Propolis on a beehive box

Propolis is a product the bees make from plant resin and beeswax. It's thought it keeps the bees healthy. It definitely glues the boxes together to keep them air tight and cosy. Its name comes from Greek for 'defense of the city', the bee city of course.

It contains a whole bunch of active compounds that seem to have all sorts of health benefits to humans, like antibacterial, antiviral, anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory. But it is one of those things that is not well studied or understood. You can buy propolis lozenges, capsules, spray and creams.

Propolis from bees

Our bee expert Bob swears by it for health, and these old bee dudes know a few things the rest of us are just catching up on. Sounds a bit like the story of manuka honey doesn't it?

And, as a side revenue stream from our amazing bees, it's all good. Bees do way more than just make honey. More on this in future posts.

Friday, 22 July 2016

What do beekeepers wear?

So what exactly do beekeepers wear? Well, there's the bee hat and the overalls and the thick gloves. Tuck your overalls over your gumboots so the bees don't crawl in.

Or not. Some seasoned pros just go out in their normal clothes, unless they are doing something aggressive like taking the bees' honey.

I think this is a good thing to wear. A birthday present from my kids.

I'm sure Muhammad Ali would agree too.

Saturday, 16 July 2016

Collecting Manuka Seeds

When is the right time to collect manuka seeds for planting?

We've been collecting manuka seeds. These ones are from the trees that we found in near the Kai Iwi lakes, but I have also picked some from our own trees in our back yard.

So, when is the right time to collect manuka seeds?

You want to pick them when they are ripe. And ripe means they are starting to open. But on any branch there are ripe ones and not so ripe ones, so my rule of thumb is: if some have already opened then they are ready. If none are open yet, then try a different branch or a different tree. Each tree will be slightly different.

And, what does ripe look like? If you go back a couple of posts you'll see a close up of a seed pod that is just about to burst open. That's ripe. The ones that have already opened won't have any seeds in, they'll just be empty pods. So you want some on the branch opened like that too.

And then what? I store them somewhere dry until I am ready to sow them. These ones in the dish will open over time and the fine seeds will all fall out to the bottom of the dish, with a bit of a shake.