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Heavy rain hits honey producers

It’s been a terrible season for honey production in Wairarapa.

“It’s been insanely down. There’s no honey to be processed,” said Hayden Moore, manager of Honey wholesaler Extraction Greytown.

“Normally, we have too much honey and not enough staff, but now we’re trying to find honey.”

That’s because the wet summer halted the manuka flowering in its peak time for this region.

“Our honey mainly comes from manuka, which flowers for a window of three to five weeks. We need that window of good weather to get honey.”

Manuka flowers in Wairarapa during mid-to-late December but during that month Wairarapa had up to 149 per cent more rainfall than normal, despite higher-than-average temperatures throughout the month.

“Bees don’t go out and about when it is raining because it’s hard to fly, so they stay in their hive and eat the honey,” Moore said.

“If we have seasons like this every year, there is no way we’ll be able to continue.”

Wairarapa beekeeper Peter Sales said it’s been one of the worst seasons he had seen in the region.

“The whole east coast has been terrible this year.

“The manuka flower was affected badly. Now we have good weather, the bees don’t have anything to pollinate apart from pasture flowers like clover and dandelions.

Sales said honey from pasture flowers was not worth enough to sell.

“If there’s a sufficient quantity of the honey, a lot of it will be kept with the bees for winter. It is more economical to feed it to the bees than sell it.

“The bees will be fed for winter, but it’s not economically sound for us,” Sales said.

Helen Holt
Helen Holt
Helen Holt is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age and enjoys reporting on a variety of topics, regularly covering Wairarapa events, tourism, local businesses, and the occasional health story.

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