The honeybee season begins in September, just as the whole South Island of New Zealand comes to life after the cold winter months. First, we check all of our hives for common diseases and give the bees their first organic treatment of botanicals. This treatment comes in the form of natural thyme oil, which is put onto a wafer and inserted into each hive. No harmful chemicals whatsoever are used.
The natural methods that we depend on strengthen the bees naturally and organically. We carefully select bees that are coping with our natural treatments and are evolving to become better housekeepers. This is a more time consuming method, but it is the only way to prevent diseases from building resistance and becoming stronger. In this way we are ensuring a sustainable and long lasting future for bees and honey. Bees are becoming endangered, but through the methods used by Wai-Ora Apiaries we are ensuring that they will be on our planet Earth for millennia to come.
Queen rearing also begins at this time. Although we never kill a queen bee unnecessarily, queens do have a limited lifespan and must be replaced every 2-3 years. We take special care to ensure that all of the queens we raise are in optimal health and happiness. A young queen is better than an old queen because they produce more eggs, and in turn more bees. A young queen invigorates a hive, allowing it to remain fresh and healthy. Queen rearing and the reintroduction queens into hives is incredibly important to the health of hives, which is why we take such special care during this process.
Another necessary step in the beekeeping process is the creation of nuclei to prevent swarming. To create a nucleus we remove a number of bees from a hive to alleviate pressure on the colony. We then introduce these bees with a new queen into a new hive.
After ensuring the stability, vitality, and stress free conditions of all of our hives, we add a box on top of boxes that already have hives within them. Bees will begin storing excess honey in these additional boxes.
Lastly, we move the hives out of the hill country (wintering sites) and back into the bush and hills. This move brings the bees into higher foothills with a warmer climate. This climate is also more conducive to the creation of pure, wild honey as it is untouched land containing copious amounts of manuka and honeydew.
After adding a box and moving the bees onto ideal land, we leave the bees alone. By allowing the bees to live and produce their honey naturally and without interference we are guaranteed truly wild, and natural honey. This also ensures that the bees are stress free and happily buzzing about.
During the summer months we pay careful attention to the season and weather. Bees are entirely temperature and weather reliant and require stable flowering to create truly exceptional honey. By focusing on the changing weather we are able to connect closer to nature and communicate with the bees through the organic changes in the microclimate.
As long as the weather remains fair and the temperature warm, bees can fill a box in as little as two weeks. After a box is filled, we add another to ensure that bees always have plenty of room to create more wild honey.
It is in the fall months that the harvest begins. We insert bee escapes between the top boxes and the bottom two brood boxes. A bee escape is a wooden board containing escape holes that allow the bees to leave top boxes, but not get back in. This is a stress free method of removing bees from boxes while ensuring that no bees are hurt or killed.
After all of the bees leave the top boxes, we remove the top boxes and bring them to the honey shed to begin the extraction process. The extraction process involves using a centrifuge to separate honey from wax and storing the honey in certified food-grade storage containers. All of these processes comply with organic standards. Through these heat free and chemical free methods all nutrients, protein, and medicinal qualities of our honey is retained.
The honey is then sent to an organically certified packer and finally shipped to customers. The honey you receive is 100% wild, organic, pure, and raw authentic New Zealand honey, straight from the source. Buying our honey is exactly like keeping bees yourself, without all the hard work and bee stings.
After the harvest we prepare our hives for the cold winter months. We carefully observe each and every hive to make sure that our bees have enough honey to feed on to make it through the winter. In this way we are able to avoid feeding our bees sugar. They live off of the same high quality Wai-Ora honey that you enjoy at home. This allows both you and bees to remain 100% happy and healthy. As the snow melts and the temperature becomes warmer we prepare for a new Spring and another season of beekeeping.