You may have heard about the potential benefits of Manuka, but how much do you know about how it’s made or where it comes from?
For over 40 years, we at Comvita™ have been supplying Manuka honey to customers all over the globe. Comvita™ Manuka honey comes in many forms from honey for your toast to being combined with apple cider vinegar to create a natural tonic and from being used as a moisturiser against dry skin to being used in hospitals to heal wounds; the applications of Manuka honey are as plentiful as the benefits it may provide.
With so many benefits providing so many uses, questions invariably crop up as to how such a substance is produced, so let’s take a look…
Where Does Manuka Honey Come from?
Native to New Zealand, Leptospermum Scoparium historically used to be thought of as a weed. Many years ago, farmers used to pull Manuka from the fields – but that was before its benefits were known.
The prolific bush-type tree that’s often the first species to grow upon cleared land. More commonly referred to as the ‘Manuka tree’, the flowers it produces contain a genetic makeup that makes them stand out for their antibacterial activity among other types of honey. When the honeybee arrives to pollinate with the flowers, it takes that special nectar away to their hives to store in their honeycombs.
New Zealand Manuka trees are unique, as they only grow with activity in specific parts of the world; predominantly on the country’s North Island (although it’s also harvested from other locations throughout the country). At Comvita™, we generally place our hives in the unspoiled areas of the North Island’s volcanic plateau and the bush-clad hills of Northland.
The heat and land texture of the north island helps to create the higher antibacterial grades required for the medical honey.
The Manuka plant only flowers 2-6 weeks of the year, which makes the presence of genuine Manuka relatively rare; this combination of the natural goodness it provides and its rarity truly makes Manuka honey one of nature’s special gifts.
How is Manuka Honey Made?
The Manuka pollination process that will eventually create honey, is undertaken by the western honey bee – otherwise known as ‘the European honey bee’ and the most common bee species worldwide. Once the honeybees start their collection of pollen and nectar, they pollinate with the flower. A whole colony will stay until the nectar supplies have been used up, helping to get the most out of the flowers they pollinate with.
Honeybees have a second stomach to store the collected nectar in (think ‘backpack’), which provides an opportunity for it to be mixed with enzymes that allow for long-term storage. Once the process is complete, the honeybee will fly back to the hive and pass the materials they’ve taken from the flowers to worker bees. This is done through regurgitating the nectar into the mouth of the worker, who will go on to place the nectar into a honeycomb that it’s built especially to store the material.
During the early period of storage, the nectar still contains a large concentration of water, so the bees will push the evaporation process along by moving their wings and then seal up the honeycomb with liquid taken from its abdomen, creating what we commonly call ‘beeswax’.
In order to acquire Manuka honey, our beekeepers place their hives into these Manuka-growth areas just when the plants start to flower. The foraging area around a beehive can extend for around two miles, which makes being able to identify which areas have a plentiful growth of Manuka crucial. Timing is important to the process too, as Manuka trees only experience a flowering season of 2-6 weeks.
Support Your Immunity Naturally with Comvita™
If you’re looking to support your daily immunity with natural produce, then Manuka honey offers great support.