Rivalry Over Manuka Honey – KM154

This is Episode One hundred and fifty four of our beekeeping show – Rivalry Over Manuka Honey

We are Gary and Margaret, We are kiwimana.

kiwimana are beekeepers who keep bees on the Wild West Coast of Auckland in New Zealand. We love to teach about beekeeping. We sell beekeeping supplies and share information to help you keep honey bees organically.

In this episode we talk about the rivalry over manuka honey between NZ and OZ and a man in California is saving bees by building them hives. We also have roving reporters checking in from Canada and Scotland.

What’s Happening with our Bees – We talk to Margaret

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Gary – As we come to the end of Spring how have the bees been going ?
Margaret – Glad to report that all the splits have produced healthy laying queens…lots of brood hatching this week.
The older queen colonies are really building up and fears of starvation have blurred into nothingness as our area sees the nectar flowing exponentially…flash term for HEAPS coming In !!!!
Gary – If the bees are collecting so much …how are varroa levels in the colonies ?
Margaret – Obviously with foraging you will get varroa coming in so I am always checking mite fall on their inspection (or sticky boards) and yes treated last week and saw good mite drops…(well not good, but you know what I mean ) will be treating again this week with the fact that there is going to be the big hatchings as I said with all the new season queen colonies capped brood is ready to hatch so varroa may be in those cells. So we have to knock the bastards off !!
Gary – thats really a concern so what do you recommend folks who have varroa in their country to do ?
Margaret – Well Australia is our nearest neighbour and they don’t have varroa but in the colder countries with varroa wintering down hives should include treating to knock back and monitoring cells for varroa presence especially if they have any capped brood before their brood breaks start, possibly treating once all brood has hatched if they are using OAV to knock back any phoretic (walking) mites.
Gary – so as you said last podcast…you are a fair weather beekeeper …is this weather helping you manage the bees ?
Margaret – Sadly it has meant I feel like have siestas and fiestas and then another siesta !!
But on a serious note – it’s been so good to see the bees just being bees, watching them coming and going…the nicest thing about this time of year is that there are large populations and this means the entrances are busy – the other thing is that with such good nectar flow…there is no robbing behaviour
Gary – it’s great news about the hives building up so well…you are so awesome Margaret : ) and what great work you have done to get the hives to here…I salute you.
With such build-up going on, what are the management requirements for the hives ?
Margaret – With nectar flow comes the need for space, with population increase comes the need for space, so the top beehive management jobbie is
Gary – Space ?
Margaret – ….yes siree bob you guessed it (even though I gave very strong hints )
So having boxes and frames ready to add is key in preparation.
Gary – Our mission is to Save Bees,
Margaret – And to stop them from swarming and absconding !
We would recommend regular inspections for beginner beekeepers is important so you can visually see what the girls are up to and this is such a key job for the beekeeper, it’s also an extremely helpful learning tool and it helps beginners to learn to identify what they are looking at – without knowing what they are looking at makes it hard to know what to do next.
Gary – how regular ?
Margaret – For my beginners I recommend scheduling an assessment inspection at the end of the season so we now come to the end of Spring and need to prepare for Summer.
Assessment means going in and inspecting one frame at a time, each side and noting what is on each side, then replacing the frame in exact spot (allowing a couple of frame spaces so you don’t roll the queen) – take no action only look.
This is really important ….I tell them to just go in and see, take photos, notes or get someone to take photos or notes for them – this will then enable them to review / zoom in and start to identify what is there.
Start from left to right and number each frame…this will also give information of how bees choose to fill the frames
Gary – Really important …starting from left to right they will see honey on the outside and then nectar, pollen then to brood in the middle, then moving out to left they will start to see pollen nectar then honey again
Margaret – Exactly….they will see the difference between nectar, honey, pollen.
Then once seeing brood in the middle well that’s the answer to the question of how bees set-up their hive….??????
So far we have produced another generation of new season queens, so our mission is going to plan to have genetic growth whilst also keeping our older queens which will be beneficial to empowering or enhancing their behaviours for the Bees dealing with varroa.
Yes I agree that with survival and enabling the girls to enhance their bee behaviour when varroa are present they are becoming more hygienic and we are seeing holes in the cells so the girls are being very good at preventing the varroa to mate those skills are taught to each new bee.

Roving Reporters

Linda “Bee Girl” – Ontario – Canada

Linda is a Beekeeper,Mother and Mead Maker. We hear how she keeps bees while protecting her bees from bears in Canada. Follow her adventures on Instagram HERE

Kelvin Towner

Kelvin – Dunblane – Scotland

Kelvin is an Advanced Beemaster Beekeeper from Dunblane in Scotland. He teaches beginner beekeepers and Honey bee biology to his local association. His main interest isn’t honey but Queen Rearing and Breeding to improve his stock of bees.

Thanks Kelvin and Linda….you are awesome !

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It would be awesome if you can help create the kiwimana buzz by being part of the show –  reporting  in from your location while in the field

If so…Could you record a quick update of one to two minutes of your local weather conditions and what other people should be doing with the bees in your area.

To Learn how to get your report to us, check out:- How to become a Roving Reporter

Big News from us

A couple of weeks ago, Gary’s role at his day job was disestablished. We see this as an opportunity to pursue kiwimana full time and hopefully make a living doing what we love to do.

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Beekeeping News

Stakes raised in Australia-New Zealand rivalry over manuka honey as study finds ours is the best

An article from Jennifer Nichols from ABC.net, says some Australian honey has higher levels of antibacterial activity than our Manuka Honey. So they are wondering why they can’t call it manuka???

The stakes have been raised in the fight by Australian beekeepers to continue to use the name ‘manuka’, after a five-year study proved our medicinal honeys are equal to, or better than, New Zealand’s.


Talking Points

  • Leptospermum plants are native to both Australia and New Zealand.
  • Testing of over 5000 was conducted by three Australian universities.
  • Seven of the Australian leptospermum species produce honey with high levels of antibacterial activity.
  • An identification guide maps rough locations of the most medically active plants has been produced.
  • New Zealand is currently trademarking the word “manuka” in China.
  • France successfully trademarked champagne, spokesperson John Rawcliffe has argued that manuka is a Maori word, unique to New Zealand.
  • But Dr Brooks maintains that Australia has a right to the name.
  • The Maori word for manuka is manuka — it’s got an inflection over the ‘a’.. Say Dr Brooks
    “I hope his case is based on more than that…Gary”
Our medicinal honey is as good as, or more active than, New Zealand medicinal honey — so New Zealand’s got one species [leptospermum scoparium], we’ve got multiple [leptospermum] species, and some of our species are three or four times more active than New Zealand.
Dr Peter Brooks – USC Honey lab senior chemistry lecturer

Your Feedback

John Thomson How interesting. So the battle is still ongoing, AU vs NZ. Here I thought it was South Island vs North Island. As long as there are three different Interest Groups, there will likely always be three different Claims to The Best Manuka Honey. Just a thought. I had some honey from AU that stated 10% AU Manuka. I trust that it is a mixture of other produced honey. The NZ Manuka honey I have is KFactor 16. So, pray tell, who will have the final word as to ‘Who’s Who” in the Manuka honey world?
kiwimana Yeah …watch this space

Meet the California man trying to save honeybees by building them hives

An interesting article from the New York Post about a guy that makes natural log hives and hangs them in trees for the bees to use as homes. Great idea or just a raving hippy?? 🙂

The staggering decline of honey bee colonies has alarmed experts across the United States, but an unconventional apiculturist in California thinks he has found a way to save them.

Talking Points

  • Michael Thiele has championed an approach he calls the “rewilding” of honeybees
  • Hmmm I hope no one does this in New Zealand, Once the area gets American Foul Brood that isn’t going to help save anyones bees?
  • I guess if its in a remote area, and no other beekeepers are around like It-ha-ca, New York that the article mentions
  • Michael was the guy behind Gaia Bees
  • Learn more here:- Apis Arborea

Your Feedback

Christine Everett Great story… I like his style and approve of his method of allowing bee’s a safe place to prosper…
Raymond O’brien In NZ the Bee population suffer from various garden poisons, they also suffer from Foul Brood., but the worse problem is Varroa Mite left to their own accord the hive can’t compete with this insect so must be treated. The thousands of wild hives just don’t survive
Bryan Mitchell That’s a drone in his fingers.- a male bee, – only eats, doesn’t do any foraging work, nor does it sting (hasn’t got the stinger needed to do so)..
Karp Cheryl God bless and help this very good man!!

Feedback from You

Regarding KM153 – Fighting the Threat of Extinction – Bruce via Podbean Asks:-

How do treating beekeepers expect to eventually not have to treat when they continue to treat?

Bruce via Podbean

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Show Times

  • What’s Happening with our Bees – We talk to Margaret 00:01:13
  • Roving Reporters 00:14:02
  • – Ontario- Canada 00:14:15
  • – Dunblane – Scotland 00:19:56
  • Big News from us 00:24:02
  • Summer Survey 2019 00:24:58
  • Beekeeping News 00:26:50
  • Stakes raised in Australia-New Zealand rivalry over manuka honey as study finds ours is the best 00:27:01
  • Meet the California man trying to save honeybees by building them hives 00:34:47
  • Feedback from You 00:39:29
  • Who helped us in bringing this show to you? 00:43:28

Media Credits

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