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Sweet solution to sustainable honey supply

Sweet solution to sustainable honey supply

Natural health products company, Comvita Limited is providing a beekeeper scholarship as part of its commitment to helping develop sound, sustainable beekeeping businesses in the East Cape region.

Peter Te Kani from Potaka, Cape Runaway has moved his family to the Bay of Plenty in order to commence the one-year scholarship with beekeepers Peter and Alison Townsend of Kernow Apiaries.

“I see this as a great opportunity to train with a professional beekeeper, take my new skills back to the East Cape and manage a beekeeping business,” says Te Kani.

“My family is settling in with the help of the scholarship income and my wife Leanne is working for Comvita. It all seems to be falling into place.”

Chris Elmsly, Comvita’s Operation Manager explains, “we have been working with East Cape landowners and interested groups for several years and recognise the importance of training local people, particularly Maori, to take control and manage their valuable manuka resource.”

The East Cape region has been identified as an area with high potential to become a lucrative source of UMF™ (Unique Manuka Factor) medical grade manuka honey.

Scientific research led by Professor Peter Molan of the University of Waikato established that some manuka honey contains powerful unique antibacterial properties. Manuka honey enjoys a worldwide reputation for its special abilities to aid immune response and natural wound healing. Honey products carry the UMF™ symbol have been verified to have the required antibacterial strength of the Unique Manuka Factor.

This is just one of the East Cape projects initiated by Comvita with the aim of establishing a sustainable supply of manuka honey.

Other initiatives include an agreement with Ngati Porou iwi to foster a beekeeping industry around Waipiro Bay and produce manuka honey on otherwise unproductive land.

The Waipiro Bay project began in 2002 with the delivery of 300 hives, along with their resident bees, to strategic locations. The hives were sourced from the South island to avoid varroa mite problems. Ultimately, the hapu at Waipiro Bay will purchase the hives and run them as a stand-alone operation.

“We are delighted to have an enthusiastic trainee on board,” says Elmsly.

“A successful beekeeping industry will ultimately translate into jobs and income for the East Cape community. I admire Peter’s drive and ambition, and hope the scholarship helps in some way to smooth the transition for his family.”

Comvita won the Environment Bay of Plenty Sustainable Business Award for large businesses earlier this year.

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