We spend a bit of summer every year in the remote and ridiculously beautiful Wairahi Valley on Great Barrier Island. This summer we were lucky enough to be lolling about on the verandah overlooking the bay when Bruno decided it was time to process the honey from some of the beehives. So while he donned his gloves and carried the honey-heavy frames up to the house, Sue showed us girls how to get to work carefully scraping the comb off the outside, and then spooning the thick sticky honey into big jars.
The busy bees had worked on filling different drawers of the hive throughout the past months, and you could see that different blends had been made depending on what was flowering. The Pohutukawa flowers made a paler, creamy looking honey, while most of the drawers we were working on contained the coveted dark, thick golden treasure made when the bees collect pollen from the Manuka and Kanuka shrubs that blanket the Wairahi valley. Needless to say we didn’t mind getting a bit sticky – licking honey-dipped fingers at the end was a good reward. The bees had been so prolific while we had been lying round eating Christmas ham and drinking plum wine that we were able to process something like 12 kilos of honey out of about 15 frames (though don’t quote me on this, I wasn’t counting).
Here are some photos of the beautiful Manuka honey we ended up with. I don’t want to gross you out but I tell you I had a mouth ulcer that had stubbornly stayed put for about two weeks and while we were processing this honey I dabbed some on. Ulcer gone within a day, like magic.