Monofloral and Manuka Honey: Honey-Hunting the Honeybee to its Demise, With Love

While New Zealand is well known for its exports of kiwi fruit and mutton, a similarly well-known agricultural product of Kiwi-land is the honey made from the nectar of the manuka tree – manuka honey. While the manuka tree has long been known by the Maori for its medicinal properties, it wasn't until the 1990s that scientists at Waikato University in Hamilton discovered manuka honey's unique properties.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

Nice work


Your first pic is a hover fly that mimics a bee, is very much not a honeybee.

Whoops! I would have never caught that, although now that you mention it its eyes do look huge! And in person those hover flies do fly and sound differently. Thanks for pointing that out! I’ll leave the picture, but update the description.

p.s. now that I read the comments left for the photo on Flickr, somebody had pointed out “Nice Hoverfly.” Double whoops for me!

I think you’re seriously underestimating the true innovation, care , and respect in the NZ honey business. Watson and Son for instance are doing amazing things for repairing NZ forest, massively increasing our bee population

Yes, you’re right, there certainly is good beekeeping going on in New Zealand (as I briefly pointed out). I don’t know about Watson and Son either way, so I can’t say there. My beef though is mostly with honey derived from monocultures, which I gather most manuka is still not, and it would be great if it stayed that way. That being said, I think manuka honey, as fantastic as it is, can be way over-hyped. In certain situations it’s definitely the go-to honey, but not as a blanket-cure-for-all-ills kind of thing.

Good article. I agree with much of what you say in terms of monoculture ag and honey and the monetary motivation of most bee non profit bee enterprises. It’s ironic that most of our bees in Vancouver, Canada come from New Zealand (30,000 packages a year which I oppose). I keep bees for the Vancouver Foodbank and a community garden. P.S. That’s a good eye that can id a hover fly from that angle. I couldn’t and I have photographed a few hover flys.

New Zealand as well, eh? I wasn’t aware of that. I did know that hives are flown in from Australia on 747s to the US to make up for collapsing hive numbers down there (or up there, as I’m no longer in Canada).

And kudos on the foodbank and community garden bees. I found it hard to believe, but the honey I got as my share from the Toronto beekeepers co-op was the best I’d tasted before. I was told that it would have been because of the multitude of different plants people have growing in their yards.

The author has said: “Although it can be tough (and for some unaffordable) to not purchase food – a necessity – grown in monocultures…” But you have to talk about livestock. You cant feed that many animals grain and soybeans while the #1 priority remains that everybody eat more and more meat, without mono-culture. And you should talk about it, because a billion Chinese and Indians are about to give you an excuse to talk about it.

I certainly won’t disagree with you on that one. Monocultured livestock being fed monocultured grain and beans is probably the worst of the worst for a wide range of reasons. I’m sure I’ll write about that eventually. And if it’s any consolation to you, I actually quit eating maize in all its forms eight or so years ago after reading Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma. And by all its forms I mean everything. Xanthan gum, citric acid (preservative #330), corn starch, high-fructose corn syrup, etc. etc. Meaning I can’t eat about 98% of the stuff you find in grocery stores, organic or not. I do intend to grow maize one day, which is when I plan on ending my maize hiatus. I’ll be putting up a post about that in March of next year if you’re curious.