We're not here to tell you all about the benefits of mānuka honey. We trust that you know about that stuff already. You probably also know that the active ingredient in mānuka honey is methylglyoxal, a compound found in most types of honey but usually in only small quantites. Methylglyoxal is the important stuff that gets scientists and health advocates all excited, and in New Zealand mānuka honey the methylglyoxal levels are uniquely high.
Our honey is batch tested at Analytica Laboratories Ltd, Ruakura Research Centre, for methylglyoxal, measured in milligrams/kilogram (mg/kg). The Methyglyoxal content in honey is often referred to using the acronyms UMF or MGO. We prefer to tell it like it is and label our honey 100+, 200+ or 300+ MG.
The bit we really care about, and have some control over, is the welfare and health of our bees. We don't use our hives for orchard pollination, as this stresses them out, and take our time in spring to make sure that every hive we plan to transport is in tip-top condition. When summer arrives we take our hives to the mānuka fields. Our farmers are the best and do not spray, and we choose areas that have additional food sources for the bees with flax and gorse nearby. Mānuka has only a short flowering season right in the heat of summer so our bees need to be in great condition to gather the most nectar. Fat bees are happy bees.
Mānuka honey takes on the flavours of the region the hives are situated in, much like how a good red wine reflects the ground the vines have grown in. It is always exciting at harvest time having the first taste, and to tell the truth it's almost as exciting getting the results back from the lab and seeing what potential lies in our honey drums.
Enough talk. Time for a cider vinegar and honey drink, and let's see what the day brings.