Body & Fitness

From the hive to your home: Manuka honey’s journey to the kitchen shelf

Manuka honey is widely recognised as one of New Zealand’s premier exports. But how does this coveted substance make its way from the hive to your home? We spoke to Colin Baskin, Chief Supply Chain Officer at UMF® Manuka honey experts Comvita, to find out.


Harvesting honey is an art. Unlike some other farming processes, which have been industrialised for the modern age, honey still has to be painstakingly hand harvested by expert beekeepers.

That’s because when harvesting honey a single beekeeper may be managing 500 -1,000 beehives; all in disparate, remote locations across a variety of regions. Hand harvesting is the tried and true way to ensure that the bees and hive are looked after with the utmost care and attention by the beekeeper.

A beekeeper tends to the hive

And once collected, the honey’s journey has only just begun.

The honey is sent to purpose built regional extraction facilities throughout New Zealand, where it is gently spun out of the frames, filtered and pumped into drums.

Honey from the drums then goes through filtering, blending (to achieve absolute consistency through the “creaming” process) and finally testing, to determine its UMF® (Unique Manuka Factor) quality grade.

Comvita’s lab conduct all testing and assessment in house, but final batch testing is conducted by an ‘UMFHA’, accredited independent lab, ensuring all authentication criteria is recorded.

The frames have to be dealt with by hand

At Comvita’s head office in Paengaroa, Bay of Plenty, the Manuka is then packaged and labelled according to its UMF® rating.

The entire process from harvesting to it hitting shop shelves usually takes around three to six months depending on locations consumers purchase from around the world.

Related stories

Get your favourite magazines home delivered!  

Subscribe and save up to 38% on a magazine subscription.