Frequently Asked Questions 常见问题解答

Why do bees make honey?

In nature, bees make and store honey as food to use during the months when there is no nectar, especially in winter, when few flowers are around. 


How do bees make honey?

Honey is made from the nectar collected from the flowers by the honeybee. While inside the bee's body, the nectar combines with special enzymes that change its chemical properties, so it becomes ready for extended storage. The honeybee regurgitates the nectar after returning to the hive, and another worker bee will deposit the nectar into a honeycomb. The worker bee hastens the evaporation process by using their wings to fan air around the honeycomb. After the removal of nearly all the water from the nectar, it becomes honey. Bee seals the top of the honeycomb with wax which they make themselves from inside their body to stop the honey from drying out.


What is New Zealand Manuka Honey? 新西兰麦卢卡蜂蜜

Mānuka is a Māori word and a taonga for all New Zealanders.

New Zealand Mānuka honey is produced by honeybees that gather nectar from the flowers of mānuka plants or Leptospermum Scoparium that are native to New Zealand. Its colour can range from dark cream to tan or dark brown and it has a distinctive earthy mineral flavour, nutty medium sweet in taste. Depending on the packaging process it can have a  jelly-like texture and often small air bubbles can be seen.


Why is New Zealand Manuka Honey special compared to other types of honey?

All types of honey have varying levels of antibacterial activity due to hydrogen peroxide produced by an enzyme that the bees add to the nectar they collect. Hydrogen peroxide, a well known antibacterial and cleansing agent is affected by heat, light, time and commercial processing.

The research discovered that the antibacterial activity remained in Manuka honey when hydrogen peroxide had been removed. Its antibacterial activity not related to hydrogen peroxide is known as non-peroxide antibacterial activity, or NPA, came from a natural compound called Methylglyoxal, or MGO, which is present in the honey from mānuka plant.


The facts about Methylglyoxal, or MGO, and its origin?

Methylglyoxal is a bioactive compound found in Manuka honey that was responsible for its antibacterial activity. It is documented that the concentration of MGO in Manuka honey is 100 fold higher than in regular honeys, the higher the MGO the higher the antibacterial activity.

The research from Waikato University's chemistry department showed that methylglyoxal in New Zealand Manuka honey originates from the chemical compound  dihydroxyacetone, or DHA, which was naturally present in the nectar of Mānuka flowers. Furthermore, young honeys shortly after bees deposit it in the comb contained low levels of MGO and high levels of DHADHA converts to MGO during storage of the harvested honeys over 12 - 22 months at a constant temperature of around 22 - 37 degrees Celsius, over time the DHA content decreases and a related increase in MGO.


What is UMF, and the numbers mean?

UMF stands for Unique Mānuka Factor. Manuka honey with UMF has unique antibacterial properties.

A grading system to appraise the purity and quality of the Manuka honey, the higher the grade, the higher is the purity. The UMF rating shows the level of non-peroxide antibacterial activity or NPA, in Manuka honey of a standard reference antiseptic, phenol. For example, UMF 10+ Manuka honey had the same antiseptic strength as a 10% solution of phenol, source from Dr. Peter Molan, the biochemist at Waikato University that discovered the unique antibacterial benefit of Manuka honey in 1981.


What does MGO value mean?

Both MGO and UMF are trusted Manuka honey grading systems, and both measure Methylglyoxal content, or MGO. Methylglyoxal is a component responsible for the unique non-peroxide antibacterial activity, or NPA of the Manuka honey, and the potency of the antibacterial activity is directly proportional to the level of MGO content (mg/kg) present in the Manuka honey

Below is the UMF grade to MGO value.




The facts about Heat, Hydrogen Peroxide & Honey

Some properties of Manuka honey can be affected at high temperatures, but some low heat during processing does not negatively impact the properties of honey.

It is not advisable to mix Manuka honey in hot water. As a general rule, it is best to consume Manuka honey directly off the spoon. For those who desire a cup of warm Manuka honey drink, keep the water to no hotter than 35 °C . The boiling point of water is 100 °C at sea level.

Honey contains glucose and an enzyme added by the honeybee change the nectar's sugar composition called glucose oxidase, breaking down glucose into hydrogen peroxide and create low pH acids. These acids contribute special properties which mean that all honey has a healing action in infected wounds and other bacterial disorder. Hydrogen peroxide, the main antibacterial components of honey is not stable and degraded by light and heat. Hydrogen peroxide can also be broken down by another enzyme called catalase which comes from pollen.

Hydrogen peroxide is rapidly broken down by an enzyme that is in blood and other body tissues, so makes honey other than Manuka less effective on wounds. There is also an enzyme in the saliva that breaks down hydrogen peroxide, making honey other than Manuka less effective for bacterial infections in the mouth and throat.

As a result, the beneficial healing properties of honey resulting from hydrogen peroxide can be unreliable.

Manuka honey, on the other hand, is a non-peroxide antibacterial activity, or NPA, its action came from a unique chemical called methylglyoxal, or MGO, only found it Manuka honey, a bioactive compound that inhibits the growth of bacteria.


What level of Mānuka honey is best for me?

There are a number of microbiological chemical tests that are used in the honey industry to determine the suitability of honey as an antibacterial product.

Non-peroxide antibacterial activity, or NPA, is often marketed in New Zealand Mānuka honey as the Unique Mānuka Factor, or UMF, with a rating 10+ and above are considered therapeutically active.

  • UMF 20+ = Superior level of therapeutic benefits
  • UMF 15+ = Potent level of therapeutic benefits
  • UMF 10+ = Good level of therapeutic benefits
  • UMF 5+   = Maintaining a level of good health


Making sure it's authentic New Zealand Manuka honey

Ministry for Primary Industries, or MPI, of New Zealand finalised robust scientific testing to authenticate whether a particular honey is New Zealand Mānuka honey.

Test 1 Chemical Test

The present of the following 4 chemical markers in the Mānuka honey:

  • 3-phenyllactic acid
  • 2-methoxyacetophenone
  • 2-methoxybenzoic acid
  • 4-hydroxyphenyllactic acid

Test 2 DNA Test

DNA level from Mānuka pollen.


How to distinguish Multifloral honey & Monofloral honey?

Multifloral Mānuka honey

Honey that is produced by bees from various floral sources is called multifloral honey. To be called multifloral Mānuka honey, the honey must contain predominantly Manuka nectar above any other sources, plus meet four chemical markers and a pollen test.

Monofloral Mānuka honey

Theoretically, monofloral honey is produced by the nectar of a single plant. In practice, it is not possible to restrict or instruct bees to collect nectar from only a single plant. Honey that is produced by bees that predominantly collect nectar from the Mānuka plant itself is considered as monofloral Mānuka honey, it must meet a higher level of two of the four chemical markers, namely Phenyllactic acid and Methoxyacetophenone, and a pollen test.

Attributes to identify monofloral and multifloral Mānuka honey

The attributes lie in the content of the four chemical markers in Mānuka honey

Phenyllactic acid - must be at a level greater than or equal to 400 mg/kg for monofloral and between 20 mg/kg and 400 mg/kg for multifloral.

Methoxyacetophenone - must be at a lever greater than or equal to 5 mg/kg for monofloral and greater than or equal to 1 mg/kg for multifloral.

Methoxybenzoic acid - must be at a level greater than or equal to 1 mg/kg for both monofloral and multifloral.

Hydroxyphenyllactic acid - must be at a level greater than or equal to 1 mg/kg for both monofloral and multifloral.


Can honey be spoiled when it is stored in an open container?

Yes. Honey will absorb moisture from the air if left uncovered and this will promote fermentation to occur. Keep your honey in its original jar in a dry and cool place so you can enjoy its full flavours.


Do you take international orders?

Yes, we do. All orders are sent from New Zealand via NZ Post International Courier or alternative Courier company.  We have a special freight rate to China.
Please read the International Delivery and Terms and Conditions before placing your order. Send your orders to sales@beedepot.co.nz. We will advise you the shipping cost.