The Sticky Business of Honey Extraction
We think that extracting honey has to be the best smelling job in the world, and it’s probably the stickiest!
At extraction time, from Summer to mid-Autumn, our warehouse becomes a hive of activity. Packed with loaded honey boxes, the whole place is rich with the scent of honey. It’s almost as if summer lingers on for a while, with the delicious floral aromas really taking us back to those glorious harvest days in the South Island wilderness.
Our philosophy for extraction is to keep things simple. We are passionate about ensuring that our honey retains all its natural enzymes and antibacterial properties. That means doing as little as possible in terms of processing. There’s no creaming here.
However, while extraction might be a simple process for us, it is a seriously sticky job. Fortunately, our boys in the honey shed don’t mind getting stuck in.
Accompanied by the music of their choice, their first job is to remove the frames from the honey boxes, loading them one by one into the honey loosener.
The honey loosener pricks the honeycomb, breaking open the capped cells and allowing the amber liquid to flow out.
The uncapped honey frames are then loaded into the honey extractor which uses centrifugal force to spin the honey from the frames.
At that point, we pass the honey through a filter to remove any remaining beeswax, then it’s into a holding tank overnight. The next morning the honey is pumped into drums for storage. We love that the wax doesn’t go to waste — it is used to make our beeswax wraps and our beeswax blocks.
With the honey safely stored and ready for packing into pots, we can turn our attention back to our bees. The frames, with honey residues, are aptly called ‘stickies.’ These are given back to the bees to clean out the remaining honey and store in their wintering brood box.
We believe that every moment of our honey’s journey is important, whether it’s a single healthy bee landing on a flower, the exhilarating precision of a helicopter dropping hives into place, keeping extraction gentle, or the careful packaging of our glass honey jars. That’s why we love being ‘hands-on,’ involving ourselves in every stage along the way, even in the sticky jobs.
Sometimes, as our team takes a well-earned break in the tearoom, or relaxes over a Friday night drink, we like to imagine how the journey ends.
We love to think that somewhere, perhaps on the other side of the world, somebody is spreading Mountain Valley Honey on their toast, licking the sticky goodness off their fingers, and enjoying the final moment of what really is a quite an incredible journey.