Autumn Gold: A Special Honey From a Special Place

Nelson always looks so beautiful in the autumn. The leaves are really turning now, adding rich colours to the landscape. Everything seems to have a golden glow about it, especially on sunny days. 

This time of the year finds us harvesting the last of this season’s honey: Beech Honeydew and our Autumn Gold. While both of these are gorgeous honeys, it is Autumn Gold that has a particularly special place in our hearts. 

When we first started harvesting honey, we had a different batch that we were undecided about what to call it, since our bees gather this honey from a range of different sources.  Then a friend of ours, Michael Wraight, suggested, ‘why not call it Autumn Gold? It’s the time of year and look at that colour in the honey!’ We instantly loved the name and it stuck.

Michael was doing our pollen count tests at the time and was a complete legend.  A well-respected beekeeper, and the Nelson branch secretary of the National Beekeepers Association, he knew everything about pollen count and had incredible knowledge about the makeup of honey. His passion for all things bees and honey was evident in every conversation.

Photo by Cath Ayers.

When we first started getting into honey harvesting, Michael was a great support to us. Sadly, he is no longer alive. We really miss those great discussions about honey results. Each time we pick up a jar of Autumn Gold it makes us think of him. 

The wonderful thing about our Autumn Gold is the way it varies every season.  Each year the honey has a slightly different personality, depending on what has been flowering during the late summer and early autumn months. 

We love the fact that our Autumn Gold is blended by Nature, not by us. Foraging in native bush in the Buller and the Mt. Richmond Forest Park, it is our bees who decide what goes into this honey. 

Every season the bees do a stellar job of creating a beautifully balanced honey — naturally. As well as collecting a range of pollen-based nectar, they also forage on the Beech trees to gather the Honeydew. This blend of floral sources, such as Mānuka, Clover, Kāmahi or Lotus, together with the heady sweetness of Beech Honeydew creates a rich and sticky honey, with a mellow taste and slightly toasty notes. 

It’s always exciting to taste our Autumn Gold for the first time each year. We enjoy discussing the subtle differences and tracing these back to the different pollens that have made their way into the honey. We can never really be sure what the bees are going to give us, and we love that. The taste of Autumn Gold marks the very end of our honey harvest. Now it’s time to winter down the last of our hives, making sure that our bees are happy and healthy and have sufficient stores for the cooler months. Just like humans, winter is a time for bees to snuggle up and keep warm, with maybe an occasional trip outside to enjoy the sunshine.

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