As one of the organisers of the amazing Big Buzz Honey & Bee Festival held at the beginning of 2021, I gained front row insight into just how many people are unaware of our diverse New Zealand native honeys. There is also scarce understanding or knowledge of our native trees and plants that these scrumptious honeys are associated with.
So, during a light bulb moment, I thought ‘Why don’t we plant some natives at Beetopia?’ Then, when schools, visitors and future beekeepers visit us, we can point out trees and plants like rewarewa, tāwari, kāmahi, horoeka, kōwhai, tōtara, puriri, wild hibiscus, mānuka and kanuka. Better still, guests will be able to taste the honey varietals associated with them and a wide variety of pollinators will have access to an area of varied and staggered planting.
The great idea gained traction with a native plant expert, creating a planting guide for our specific terrain and environment conditions and the first 1000 trees and plants were delivered on Monday, August 16, ready for the planting team to begin transforming our paddocks. Well, we went into lockdown on Wednesday, August 18, didn’t we? This left us with a rather large amount of planting to get done on our own. Our backs have yet to recover and all I can say is be careful with light bulb moments and what you wish for! We are now fighting weeds like everyone else this spring in a bid to help the younger plants outgrow the rampant weeds. I am not allowed to put into print here what my husband has said about my bright ideas and my pollinator vision.
Moving on. Beeswax is so versatile and you can easily make your own balms or furniture polish as Christmas gifts. Here is a really easy kawakawa salve recipe that works well on bee stings, soothes a rash, revives chapped lips and dry feet and works wonders on gardeners’ hands.
Makes 2 small jars
1 cup olive oil or jojoba or
coconut oil (food grade)
15 fresh kawakawa leaves
3 tbsp grated pure beeswax
10 drops tea tree essential oil
15 drops of your favourite scented essential oil such as lemon, orange, rosemary or lavender
Gently heat the oil of your choice in a saucepan over medium heat for about one minute. You do not want the oil to be boiling hot. Place the clean kawakawa leaves in a container (with a lid) and pour the oil over the leaves and cover with an airtight lid. Infuse for at least eight hours and then remove the kawakawa leaves. Combine the infused oil and beeswax together over a double boiler. Stir until melted together and then stir in the essential oils. Then I immediately pour the mixture into tins or small jars, and allow the salve to set, about 20 to 30 minutes.
The Beetopia team wishes everyone reading this a Christmas with no TV, no social media, no phones, no traffic, no rush – just barefeet on the sand with the wind on your face, a smile in your heart and words of kindness on your lips.