Avondale's Urban Honey crowned best in New Zealand
A small honey player from Avondale has taken on the big guys - and won.
Urban Honey, the brainchild of Avondale residents Vickie Wade and Tony Melton, has been crowned the Apiculture New Zealand National Conference 2016 supreme winner.
The company has only been in business for two years with Wade in just her third year as a beekeeper, so the pair were shocked by the result.
Both still work fulltime with Melton completing a PhD in chemistry and Wade working as a neonatal intensive care nurse.
"There were people who had been making honey for decades and you have big commercial players who know their stuff and I was so nervous. I had a lot of doubt," Wade says.
Urban Honey's philosophy is to make the best local honey from local bees - the honey is taken straight from the hive with nothing added. They have 26 hives located in suburban gardens all across Auckland, meaning that each suburb's honey has its own unique taste and qualities.
The honey was judged on aspects such as its clarity, presentation, flavour, gravity, colour and aroma.
A struggling vegetable garden was the catalyst for the blossoming business.
"I had a garden where I grew vegetables and berries and it wasn't fruiting well so I did some research and realised it was more to do with the bees so we got our own beehive," Wade says.
"I absolutely love honey and have more of a taste for it now - it's part of everything in our life. We consider ourselves Auckland City farmers."
Both say their business journey so far has highlighted a need for greater education and awareness around bees and the apiculture industry.
"Learning about the decline in the bee population was one of the reasons we started," Melton says.
"We are trained bee disease inspectors. Varroa mite is a constant problem and we have to be very vigilant."
Wade says as well as running a business, they want to encourage those who have their own hives to legally register them and attend their local bee club.
Urban Honey is sold at local markets. For more information, head to facebook.com/urbanhoneybees