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IN SEASON: Honey ~ The Sweet Life

The honey bee APIS MELIFERA has been part of human culture for thousands of years and The Nelson Market can lay claim at least 40 of those.  Honey has been a popular staple for customers ever since the market began trading in the late 70’s.


Today it’s still the reigning sweet spot and like bees to the honey pot, customers descend on producers every Saturday,  eyeing up luminescent honey jars,  whilst enjoying a discourse that inevitably concludes in sampling, sticky fingers and a coveted purchase.

The Nelson Market honey community are all small, family-owned enterprises.  They operate from locations across the top of the South Island far from pesticides and noisy towns in beautiful mountains,  plains and valleys surrounded by plenty of natural foraging for the bees.

The local apiary industry has endured considerable challenges over the last decade. For producers Norbert Klose of Norb’s Organic Gold,  Murray and Nicky Elwood from Mountain Valley Honey,  Michel D’Hondt from
D’Hondt & Sons,  and Warren Ensby from Enzbee Honey,  let’s just say it hasn’t all been a sweet ride getting the nectar from farm gate to our plate.


Like their national counterparts, local honey producers are faced with everything from covid to fluctuating demand and oversupply of honey, unpredictable weather, invasive insects, labour costs and changing legislation.  Many beekeepers are also reporting increased spending to implement new workplace health and safety standards.  These costs add up for smaller-scale producers.

This comes on the back of increased production in New Zealand.  In 1980 there were 233,810 hives across the country.  By 2018 that figure had swollen to 879,758.  This reflects an across-the-board increase from polar opposite players,  backyard beekeepers on the amateur end to corporatized honey production on the other.  Mainly it’s the small professional producers who most feel the sting.



This has encouraged small operations to become more diversified and focused on producing high quality, differentiated products.  Honey isn’t the only product made by these wonderful creatures and sales of pollen, propolis, royal jelly, and beeswax are on the rise.

Norb’s Gold Organics has expanded his popular honey range into 100% Beeswax candles, bee tee shirts and tea towels.

Mountain Valley Honey has concentrated on producing high quality, award winning gourmet honeys and have been collecting awards since 2010.  Their online recipe archive is well worth a look for inspiring meals with honey as an ingredient.
D’Hondt & Sons focus on health enhancement with bio-fermented organic bee pollens and honey with antioxidants and immune system boosters.  D’Hondt’s also sell salt, pesto and sweet apple and pear syrups.
Enzbee Honey and Herbs craft top quality Bush and Manuka honey as well as Beech Honeydew.  They sell a wide variety of herb plants and unique herbal infused honeys.

Their products are popular with Nelson Market customers and many honeys are now for sale here online.   Buying locally made honey helps keep the industry viable and retains valuable apiary expertise in the region.

Another way we can support our honey producers even from our urban areas, is to plant more flowers.  Bees need to harvest pollen and nectar and with backyard gardens shrinking both our native butterflies and bees are finding it harder to get constant supplies.   Why not create your own sweet garden this summer and enjoy a Bees Knees cocktail, (below) all in the name of ensuring our honey producers don’t come to a sticky end!

Nelson Market Honey Family

Bees Knees cocktail with Honey


(Recipe courtesy of Mountain Valley Honey).

The Bee’s Knees cocktail is a Prohibition-Era drink made with gin, lemon juice, and honey syrup (honey and water).
It’s a simple classic spring cocktail, sweetened with real honey and balanced with citrus.
Perfect for gin lovers.


Honey syrup

  • ¼ cup Honey  (online here)
  • ¼ cup Hot Water


  • 60ml Gin
  • 25ml Honey Syrup
  • 15ml Fresh Lemon Juice
  • 10ml Fresh Lime Juice


  1. To make the honey syrup, combine the honey and hot water together until the honey has dissolved. The excess can be used for more cocktails.
  2. Combine all of the cocktail ingredients in a shaker with 1 cup of ice. Shake vigorously for 10 seconds then strain into a chilled glass.Bottoms up!
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