Company history

Waitemata Honey Co was established just after World War 2, when it was named Belin Brothers. The name was changed to Waitemata Honey Co about 50 years ago, when a young employee, Michael Stuckey bought the company. Today it is owned by the family of Neil Stuckey – Michael’s younger brother. The Stuckeys have been at the forefront of processing Mānuka honey, the identification of the Unique Mānuka Factor (UMF) and its international recognition as a super honey.

The Belin Brothers started production with just a few hives which they transported to sites on bicycles. Over the years, during Stuckey family management, the number of hives increased to well over 1,500, and honey from other trusted independent beekeepers whose hives total more than 10,000, is also processed. For its own hives, Waitemata manages the whole process, from breeding queen bees, hive management and processing and marketing the honey.

Waitemata’s processing is widely regarded as the best, evidenced by its Mānuka Honey being the only Mānuka honey to be awarded 5 stars by Hong Kong Consumer Council when it evaluated Mānuka honey in its market in 2013, and winning the prize for best creamed honey in New Zealand in 2014.

Mānuka honey processing is a craft activity as well as an industrial one. Waitemata’s years of experience have taught it where to collect the best quality honey, and the best way to process it.

In addition to processing Mānuka honey, Waitemata also processes other honey varieties, all of which are made to the same high standard of its Mānuka honey.

Waitemata was the first exporter of Mānuka Honey – to New York in 1974.

How it all happens

Starter hives – where a new queen bee and some worker bees start their colonies.

Hives with a colony of bees and one queen bee per hive are located in carefully chosen warm and sheltered locations, close to good sources of nectar. Hives are inspected regularly by bee keepers.

When ready, hives are brought back to the extraction plant in the honey house (above left). A scraper then takes the wax off the honey comb. A centrifugal extractor forces the honey from the honey comb. The extracted honey is further processed and then stored in drums. Samples from each drum are sent to a NZ government approved testing laboratory for assessment. Sample jars can be seen sitting on the tops of these drums (above right). The assessment determines whether the honey can be certfied as Mānuka honey and its UMF rating.

The drums of honey are then transferred to Waitemata’s packing and delivery premises, where it is further processed, packed in BPA free jars, and stored prior to delivery of the best Mānuka honey possible!

Manuka Honey and New Zealand

Mānuka honey is made from the nectar of Mānuka flowers. Mānuka bushes are indigenous to New Zealand, but the other elements of the process that make Mānuka honey aren’t. New Zealand is a very young country in human terms, being one of the last habitable land masses to be settled. The first settlors – Maoris from East Polynesia arrived about 700 years ago. The first European, a Dutchman, Abel Tasman, found New Zealand about 300 years later but didn’t land. European settlement started after the English captain James Cook circumnavigated the country in 1779 – about 137 years after Tasman’s discovery.

The honeybees, the most essential part of the honey making process are the most recent settlors, arriving from Great Britain in 1839. The bees that arrived at that time were a black German variety. The more productive Italian variety, with its distinctive gold and black stripes was imported 40 years later and spread quickly because of New Zealand’s temperate climate. New Zealand has about 30 different native bee varieties, but they don’t make honey

Processing Mānuka honey is conceptually simple: Bees make the honey and humans process it. Bees have been making honey from the beginning of recorded history – they have much experience in the task. Mānuka honey has only been processed relatively recently, and at the forefront of that endeavour is Waitemata Honey Co which has been processing it for more than 70 years. It has been owned by the same family for more than 50 of those years.

© Copyright Speciality Honey Ltd September 2019

© 2019 - Speciality Honey NZ Limited
© 2019 - Speciality Honey NZ Limited