Manuka – Kiwi Project (knowledge exchange with New Zeland)

In New Zealand, majority of beekeeping is about manuka but what this plant actually is? Mānuka (Leptospermum scoparium) is a bush up to 4 meters tall which is native to New Zealand. Leaves are elongated, pointy and evergreen. It flowers in summer (December, January and February). Flowers are white with five petals. Manuka is one of the first plants that grow on abandoned farmland and farmers treat it as a weed, which is normally spraied with herbicides to prevent further spread.

Not so far ago, manuka honey was not appreciated among costumers due to its strong and specific taste and was sold for a very low price. However its hard wood was used for handles and saw dust, full of essential oils, for smoking the meat.  »Manuka madness« started in 2008 when the main antibacterial compound which is responsible for  antibiotic properties after elimination of hydrogen peroxide from the honey,  was determinated.  Methylglyoxal kills also bugs that are resistant to majority of antibiotics like MRSA (methicillin resistant Staphilococcus aureus). Due to high manuka honey prices some beekeepers plant big surfaces with this plant and also New Zealand beekeeping sector enlarged rapidly which lead to problems related to high bee colony density.