Tag Archives: manuka honey

Honey from the Cameron Family Farms

IMG_1188

Greytown , in the Wairarapa, is about an hour away by train. I visited for a treat, with two film-loving and feminist mates.

IMG_0024

Greytown is old and beautiful, with amazing shops. I loved Emporos & Just William, where there were ceramic and other kitchen things, children’s books and toys and (yes!)  restored garden tools.

18898318

We visited Rachel Priestley’s La Pancetta, an Italian wine bar, deli and restaurant, where I stocked up on some of her deli meats and her olive oil (lots of olive groves in the Wairarapa).

IMG_1296

In another shop I lusted after leather armchairs from Italy. Later,  I bought a New Zealand version of a French walnut opener.

IMG_1251

James Cameron (former husband of  Kathryn Bigelow and director of Avatar etc) and his family have settled in the Wairarapa and run the Cameron Family Farms. We had lunch at their Food Forest Organics cafe and shop, which has accommodation attached if you want to spend the night.

IMG_1185

We ate lunch outside, round the back.

IMG_1182

It was lovely. And the gardens were dry. Like mine. And many of the plantings were the same.

IMG_1174

Not a lot of bees.

IMG_1180

But there were some wonderful honey products in the shop. Vegan lip balm, even! (I know some people don’t view bee products as vegan. I’m not sure I do either, but I’m not a vegan so what do I know?)

I loved these little bee soaps.

IMG_1256

And as for the honey… It’s ages since I’ve seen honey comb on sale.

IMG_1165

I bought some premium manuka honey. All gone now. It was delicious. Full of nutrients. A meal in itself. But I think they need a round jar, because it was impossible to reach the honey in the corners.

IMG_1266

 

Advertisements

Waiheke Island Honey Co: A Joy!

Waiheke Island at dawn, from Waiheke Honey Co
Waiheke Island at dawn, from Waiheke Honey Co

You may have read about Waiheke Island, half an hour by boat from central Auckland, in Aotearoa New Zealand.  It’s fifth on Lonely Planet‘s current list of Top Ten destinations and fourth on Conde Nast Traveller’s list of the Best Islands in the World.

Late last year I was blessed.  I needed to be in Auckland for a little while and a generous artist friend lent me her beautiful, simple studio/home on Waiheke. And I got to visit Richard at Waiheke Island Honey Co. My first apiary visit ever.  Here he is.

Richard
Richard

I loved hearing and watching how much Richard loves and cares for his ‘girls’, as naturally as possible. He even names each queen – then he puts her her name on the lids of the jars of the honey he collects from her hive. From what I saw and heard, every product he makes receives the same imaginative loving care, from beginning to end. (My chef sons love the elegant-and-sturdy Waiheke Honey Co. aprons.)

If you’re in Waiheke, Richard has a honey shack for roadside sales. (His experience is that passersby are pretty honest.)

honey shack

I’m sad that shortly after I visited the photos I took were lost in the Cloud, with the rest of my iPad’s info. But I do have this picture of some pohutukawa honey I brought home for a friend – along with active manuka, multiflora and clover honeys for others (I ate the active manuka when I needed a boost, but gave the friend the empty  jar, ‘her’ jar, with ‘Queen Amanda’ on); lip balm for a mate in the sub-Sahara where sometimes it’s very hot and dry and sometimes cold dry winds blow; those classy aprons.  And a lovely memory of a special morning. I learned so much.

IMG_0269
Pohutukawa honey, on a pohutukawa stump among a group of pohutukawa close to home.
Park
the pohutukawa

This summer, Richard’s posted some pictures that feel affirming of what I do, here in the city.

He too scatters parsley seed and then lets the parsley go to seed.

parsley

Then he gives away the seeds.

parsley seeds

For Christmas, he grew ‘the girls’ a special roadside meadow, beside the honey shack.

wide shot Christmas pressie

I recognise flowers that also flourish here, 600km south.

Christmas present to bees
marigold, calendula, cornflower, phacelia, borage (etc!)

(My phacelia didn’t grow this year. Not sure why not.)

the flower whose name I can't remember
phacelia with bee

A big thank you to Richard and Sheena (it’s very much a family business!) for their warm welcome.

xKLH30U8

Waiheke Island  Honey Co’s website (that’s the island on the label!), where you can’t yet order their products but can contact them.

And here it is on Twitter, on Facebook, on Google+.

All photographs from the Waiheke Honey Co. Facebook page, except one, as indicated.

And here’s where I stayed– totally perfect if you’re a nature lover who likes to be comfortable, want to be close to beaches and cafe and a good library and within walking distance of the ferry (there are also buses and taxis). More than totally perfect if you want to settle in to paint, draw, write.

DSCN2086-300x225

A Woman Beekeeper From the 1930s

Wild swarm in New Zealand photo: Te Ara
Wild swarm in New Zealand tree (photo: Te Ara The Encyclopedia of New Zealand)

It’s cold. It’s wet. So I’m reading instead of gardening. At the moment, the complete works of Robin Hyde (1906-1939), an extraordinary and prolific New Zealand writer. Her work enchants me, all of it.

In Journalese (1934), a light-hearted survey of her experiences as a journalist – I think she’d have delighted in social media – she documents a bee experience that wouldn’t happen now. Couldn’t. The ancient Ford? Maybe. But Italian Blacks? German Browns? Wild bees? I don’t think so.

It was in Christchurch, and by accident, that I found out I was bee-immune (i.e., proof against all stings.) The path of duty led to a woman bee farmer, her abode at Rangiora. Would she give me a story about the beauty of bee-farming? She would do more: she whisked me into an ancient Ford, and drove at an astonishing speed in the direction of the farm itself. It was in a haunted orchard. Under the desolate old trees which dropped their blossom unheeded on the grass, Italian Blacks and German Browns, an ever-dancing, ever-moving Gulf Stream of bees, guarded the hive more efficiently than any ghost could do.

Afraid of bees? She treated them with a motherly mixture of severity and contempt. And to my own amazement, I found myself draped in an inadequate sort of bee-veil, but with no gloves or other weapons of defence, brushing bees from great golden combs with a macrocarpa bough. The bees took no notice. Then, unsealing the combs, straining the honey, seeing it come up clear and dark gold….it was all rather delightful, and I still think that to retire and become a bee farmer is a quite dignified outlet for any woman’s energies. I carried home a vasty golden comb. This was awkward. It occupied practically all the shelf space in my tiny flat, and eat as I would, bestow it on my neighbours as I might, I couldn’t keep up with its melting moments. Finally the horrid remains, done up with as much care as an inconvenient corpse, found their way into the dustman’s tender care.

Manuka honey…dark, sweet, gathered by the droning wild bees whose nests are high up in rimu or manuka…is the best of all. You can smell Australia in scented boronia, the little brown-cupped sort that grows wild. You can taste the New Zealand bush in manuka honey. They collect it and use it at Chateau Tongariro, which is an unusually discerning sort of thing for any Government enterprise (pp109-110).

I’m looking out for more on the history of women beekeepers in New Zealand.

Robin Hyde
Robin Hyde