Most people know medicinal honey by the New Zealand name “Manuka”.  Until the discovery of the medical properties of Manuka honey it was a honey that nobody wanted and beekeepers could not give away there honey if it was tainted with nectar from the shub  “Leptospermum scoparium”.  The honey has an odd flavour that most people don’t enjoy.  The discovery of Manuka honeys strong medical properties has changed the New Zealand beekeeping industry into one of the most profitable beekeeping industries in the world.

Traditional pricing for honey at around $5 to $7 per kg limits the viability of honey producers worldwide without including pollination services which is time consuming and resource dependant. With prices ranging from $30 to $700 per Kg for Manuka honey every beekeeper in New Zealand became the envy of the world with L. scoparium growing almost everywhere in New Zealand all efforts were diverted to the production of Manuka honey and New Zealand has already exceeded the natural bush supply of L. scoparium and has now started turning to small and large scale plantations to increase production of the Manuka Honey. But with only one species and one sub species available in New Zealand this limits there production quite considerably.

Leptospermum

Here in Australia there are some 79 varieties of Leptospermum spp but not all of them are medicinal but 4 species of Leptospermum have been identified as producing medicinal grade honey suitable for the production of Manuka Honey.  There has been an Australia wide and worldwide effort to identify other plant spp that produce medicinal honey and this search has identified to date around 10 species of plants from ground covers to large trees that have now been identified and tested to produce medicinal grade honeys. There are ongoing efforts to identify new and better plants and these can be incorporated into the plantation if they are seen as being complementary to the currently available species and plantation layout.

By the smart use of these different plants it is possible to extend the flowering period of the plantation from 3 or 4 months per year to almost the entire spring, summer and autumn periods.  By this means we are able to increase yields for the plantation quite considerably making the return on investment much higher.

With the production of medicinal honey there is also the opportunity to harvest oils from the leaves of many of these species to produce a variety of medicinal oils similar to Tea Tree oil and with a wide variety of usage.  Manuka medicinal oil is now becoming commonplace in the markets worldwide.  This Manuka oil has similar properties to Tea Tree oil and combinations of the two oils are also available.

The Manuka honey industry is set to grow to 1Billion dollars by 2025 and current demand outstrips supply many times over.  This demand will continue to grow for the foreseeable future.

If you are a land owner and looking to invest in Manuka honey production I am here to help you in every way I can..

Finding the right investment that can grow and show a great return is not always easy and many investors have had many a sleepless night deciding on where to invest there future.  Manuka honey has become one of the world’s most remarkable investment opportunities and is likely to remain so for the next 20 years.  Current demand for Manuka Medicinal Honey outstrips supply 100 to 1 and the retail shelf prices just keeps going up and up as more and more people discover the many benefits of Manuka honey.  Australia and New Zealand are unique in being the only two places where the “Leptospermum spp” grow naturally to produce this unique Medical honey.  The “Leptospermum spp” of plants are a hardy shrub that is both drought and reasonably salt tolerant and can be grown on almost any soil type without the edition of fertilisers or sprays of any type.  A little mulch and water in summer for the first one or two years to help achieve establishment is all that’s required.

As a researcher Beekeeper with qualifications in Horticulture and Forest management I have been able to uncover ways to increase Manuka plantation yields well beyond the current methods being used today.  Studies to determine the best cultivars are still ongoing and people from around the world are looking for their own unique species of plants that can produce medicinal honey for a whole variety of uses.  “Leptospermum spp” and other plant species available need time to grow, so the return on your investment normally begins in either the 3rd or 4th year after planting and as the plants grow and produce more flowers this will continue to increase by 6 to 10 fold over the subsequent years doubling every year for the next 6 to 10 years.  With the use of several newly discovered ground cover understory plants that also produce a Medicinal honey it may be possible to start harvesting within the first 12 months but this species requires at least some irrigation and is less drought tolerant compared to “Leptospermum spp” so choosing the right location becomes more important.  There is also the option for a number of large tree spp to be used within and around the plantation that produce large quantities of Manuka honey but require 5 to 10 years before they start flowering and have the potential to increase production even further once they start to flower on a year by year basic for a further 10 years.

Other product’s such as Manuka oil which is similar to “Tea Tree oil” and Manuka pollen are also becoming popular with the public and opens up even further the potential returns available from Manuka plantations once they are established.

Currently I am looking for investors who would like to establish and manage Manuka plantations in Victoria. 

Many times I have read how the beekeepers trying to harvest Manuka honey claim there bees have an aversion to the small Manuka flowers and if alternatives are present they will choose the alternative over the Manuka tree (Leptospermum).  There is a simple solution to fix this problem and that’s to make the bees right sized so that the Manuka flowers become a preferred flower.   Although bees can harvest nectar from Leptospermum they find it a little cumbersome due to being just a bit bigger than would be desirable and so they tend to prefer other easier to harvest nectar from any available source and this tends to mix non active honey with the active Manuka honey and this lowers the overall Active levels of the final product.


By making bees a little smaller by the use of small cell foundation of 4.9mm the bees have a much greater tendency to harvest from the Leptospermum flowers and could increase honey harvest by 10% to 30%.  The current method to get around this issue is to create an area of 125acres and place the bees in the centre so they have no other choice but to collect from the small Leptospermum flowers.  This however does not overcome the issue of the bee’s natural aversion for accessing such a small flower.  By the use of 4.9mm foundation the bees become 30% smaller compared to the standard 5.4mm foundation and this makes bees access to these flowers much more comfortable and easier so increases there willingness to collect nectar from these flowers.  It also means that the current plantation size requirement of 125acres can become much smaller and still achieve very good results.


For anyone trying to collect Manuka honey it would make sense to have bees that are the right size for the job and given that the majority of native bees are smaller than the European bee the logic becomes very clear that the current size of bees on 5.4mm foundation are not right sized for the job at hand.