Big buzz at the National Honey Competition

by | Jul 6, 2023 | News

New Zealand’s best honey producers have been named at the Apiculture New Zealand National Honey Competition as part of the industry’s annual conference in Rotorua last week.

The conference hosted 700 delegates from the apiculture industry at the Rotorua Energy Events Centre on 29 and 30 June. The National Honey Competition, held before the conference, featured products across a range of honey categories from creamed honey to chunky honey and cut honeycomb.

The 2023 Kiwi Labels Supreme Award winner was Timaru-based Jarved Allan from The Mānuka Collective, who took away the award for the third year in a row.

Head judge Maureen Conquer said that the quality of honey improved again this year with very few points separating the top three entrants. All entries were blind-tasted, and an international scale of points was used to determine the winners across 10 main categories.

Once again, the honey tasting was opened up to conference attendees and a People’s Choice award given. Kaimai Range Honey’s Jody Mitchell produced the crowd favourite in this category. A selection of less common varieties were included in the tasting such as avocado, lavender, willow and Spanish heather honeys.

The Apiculture New Zealand Conference was also an opportunity to celebrate other successes within the industry with awards presented to those making outstanding achievements in apiculture science, innovation, sustainability and photography.

Rotorua-based forest entomologist Stephanie Sopow of Scion (New Zealand Forest Research Institute) was awarded the Peter Molan trophy for exceptional contribution to apiculture science. The arrival of the giant willow aphid to New Zealand has caused a broad range of impacts not only on host trees, but also on bees and beekeepers, as a result of bees and wasps harvesting the aphid honeydew. Stephanie has been leading work on the biological control of giant willow aphid with a parasitoid as part of the Ministry for Primary Industries’ Sustainable Farming Fund project ‘Management of Giant Willow Aphid’.

Glasson Apiaries, based in Blackball on the West Coast, received the ApiNZ Sustainability Best Practice Award Blackball on the West Coast. Sustainability has been their ethos from how they manage their hive locations, keeping locations close to base, to careful management of bee health and creating enduring relationships with landowners and staff. The Roy Paterson award for innovation went to another sustainably-produced product – the Kōpani pallet cover. This plant-based product (made from hemp fibre) created by Stuart Fraser of Natural Sugars reduces the reliance on plastic for wrapping hives.

The ‘Unsung Hero Award’ went to a trio of busy bees this year. Barry Foster, John Mackay and Steve Jackson from Tairāwhiti/Gisborne for their outstanding work in supporting beekeepers in their region following Cyclone Gabrielle. They went above and beyond to help local beekeepers, from coordinating practical help to organising social events.

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