Beekeeping tasks by the seasons

Our beekeeping team is busy all year around with preparation, planning, maintenance, harvesting and extraction. They have to be agile to respond to any natural events, for example, bad weather and hive care or lots of good weather and bumper honey crops. Presently we have 10,000 hives, and this is a number that we can maintain with our beekeepers working in the field. In the summer we employ extra staff to assist with the increase in the workload. 

Queen bees rule the hives. In both the spring and autumn queen rearing is done by our Queen Rearing Specialist. They introduce new queen bees in a small cage that has a queen candy plug at one end, so the bees eat their way through it, getting used to her before she can get out. Otherwise, the bees might think she is an invader and kill her. 

At the end of the winter,  our team checks on the hives to see if the bees are healthy after the winter. 

The mānuka honey season commences from about November through to February/March. It is a time of constant co-ordination of beehives, beekeepers and trucks to get the bees to the right place at the right time for flowering. The beehives are moved in the coolness at night or very early morning to avoid upsetting them. Once the bees arrive at a new location, they fly out of the beehive, do an orientation flight then go off and find the flowers and bring home the nectar that they have turned into honey.

In December/January the mānuka flowers bloom and the bees collect the nectar, bring it back to the hives to make honey. Once the hives have reached their capacity or the season finishes, harvesting begins. Our team collect the hives from various remote locations and bring them back to our extraction plant.  

From April to June the honey is extracted and then it is stored in 300kg drums in our warehouse until we are ready to pack it. During this time, the honey is closely monitored and tested so we can sell it in its prime state. The best honey is selected and sent to our honey production team for packing into retail honey jars and got ready for dispatch to various markets around the world.

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