Hives in New Zealand
As the spring days begin to lengthen, we are reminded that soon the long, glorious days of summer will be here – or at least we hope! But in our gardens the year is already well advanced with the garden echoing to the sound of humming and buzzing emanating from a variety of winged creatures including the ever industrious bees.
And bees of course mean one other thing: lovely, delicious honey! We have become a nation of honey eaters – in fact we consume over 40,000 tonnes of honey a year according to researchers from the National Bee Unit, most of which is imported as production in the UK simply cannot keep up with demand.
The renaissance in artisan and raw honeys is causing a buzz of excitement if you pardon the pun! A small part of the reason for the renewed interest in honey has been down to the ‘manuka effect’ with manuka honey attaining celebrity honey status thanks to public endorsements of its antibacterial properties by an assortment of celebrities and athletes.
New trends in honey
But manuka honey is really only a small part of the story, and interest has also been kindled by a variety of trends including the growing appreciation of the importance of bees themselves and the vital role they play the world over as pollinators. Another trend that has resonated is so-called urban honey – bee keeping in urban areas such as in gardens or on roof tops within our ever expanding cities. Finally, an increasing number of consumers are turning to honey as a natural alternative to processed sugar.
Lots and Lots of bees!
Buy raw or organic honey
Whether you buy your honey online, or from a farm shop or your nearest supermarket, the thing to look out for are raw or organic honeys if at all possible. You don’t need to spend a fortune either, but check the labels to see if they have the words raw, organic or cold pressed honey. While there is no precise industry definition of ‘raw’ honey it has come to mean honey that has not been heat treated or pasteurized, in other words it is not processed and is minimally filtered too so it retains its natural goodness. The idea is a simple one: from the hive to the jar.
The variety in the types and taste of raw honey come from the flowers and likewise the exact nutritional content varies from honey to honey. However, raw honey contains various vitamins and minerals including B vitamins, calcium, iron, potassium, and zinc to list but some. Raw honey is also a source of antioxidants, and the antioxidant effect of honey has been the subject of high level academic research too, so it is a veritable powerhouse of goodness!
Once you enter the world of honey, you will soon discover just how amazing it is with an almost infinite range of honeys as there are plants in the world.
New Zealand Rainforest Honey
You might want to try a monofloral honey, which is honey produced by bees that feed mainly of a single flower variety, or then there are equally delicious multifloral varieties. The UK produces an impressive range of honey but experimenting may open your taste buds to a whole new pleasurable experience!
Explore the world through honey
The Honey Hunter surely has one of the coolest jobs in the world: he goes around the world finding some of the most interesting organic and raw honeys imaginable.
Raw British Orchard Honey
From Europe, to Brazil via the Himalayas and New Zealand, the richness and variety of the world’s flora produces an unbelievable spectrum of tastes and textures in the form of honey. You can literally taste your way around the world without ever having to leave your kitchen.
Editor: The Honey Hunter is very kindly donating a jar of each of the honeys pictured above for a future raffle. Competition details will appear on the website shortly. Many thanks Shamus.