FACTS ABOUT AUSTRALIAN MANUKA HONEY
Honey has been produced in Australia since the arrival of honeybees in the 1820s.
In the early days of honey-making, Manuka was considered undesirable because of its distinctive flavour.
But because we now have scientific evidence of its unique qualities, it has become a prized foodstuff and medicinal aid.
While communities have known about the special properties of Manuka honey for a long time, they were finally proven in the 1980s. This was when Dr Peter Molan and his team at the Honey Research Institute at the University of Waikato in New Zealand identified its antimicrobial qualities.
Although the research took place in New Zealand, it’s interesting to note that the country has only one species of Leptospermum plant, which is thought to have originally come from Tasmania in Australia.
In fact, there are more than 80 species of Leptospermum or Manuka plant in Australia, where the species is believed to have originated.
This hardy plant thrives even in conditions of drought and fire, so you can understand why it is suited to the Australian climate.
As well as being home to this remarkable plant, Australia is also the only country in the world not infested with the varroa mite. This parasite attacks honeybees and their larvae, transmitting viruses and causing the death of bee colonies.
Because it is absent from Australia, there is no need for miticides in hives, thus ensuring the purity of Australian Manuka honey.
Perhaps Manuka honey’s most prized quality is its ability to fight infection and heal wounds. Not just an anecdotal finding, this property has the weight of scientific research behind it, which we’ll look at in detail next.