Faces at the market

On Sunday mornings, Angela Flitta can be found at Grey Lynn Farmers Market selling Happy BeeKeeping Honey.

Why are the bees so happy?

It is our ethical, bee-aware and bee-friendly approach. We always make sure that the bees are left with plenty of honey. Honey is harvested gently by hand to make sure that the bees are not harmed when removing the honey.

How did the business start?
The bee business came into being when design engineer Dr Isaac Flitta was asked to design a better beehive and had to study bees to do that. As Isaac always says: “These little fellas stole his heart.” Isaac gave up his day job to become a beekeeper.

What is your role?
Co-founder and sales – I had a very successful sales career back in the UK. I sold silver around the world. It was a fun job and I was good at it.

How does the market fit into that?
I love meeting up with the nice group of stallholders every weekend. But it is the customers that keep me coming back. Nothing makes me happier than hearing that a daily teaspoon of honey has made a positive difference to someone’s health, be it for sleep (taken with Himalayan rock salt), boosting the immune system or giving energy.

What do customers say to you?
A couple of weeks ago, a woman came in with her partner. Her partner was buying his regular honey and she told me that she hated honey. So I was surprised and delighted to get the following text: “I’m the lady that came last weekend to the Grey Lynn market with the lovely T, and hated honey – I’m now having your 250+ by the spoonful every day and I love it (tastes wonderful) and I’m feeling great.”

What did she mean by 250+?
MGO (methylgloxal – the naturally occurring compound that makes manuka honey so special) is an indication of the antimicrobial strength. All raw honey has some antimicrobial property. Our honey ranges from 25+ MGO to 800 MGO. Anything over 200 MGO is a medicinal strength. High-grade medicinal honey actually increases in potency over time.

Is all your honey raw?
Yes, it tastes wonderful and doesn’t go off; it lasts forever if stored in a cold dark place, but not the fridge. Heating honey to 40° Celsius destroys its benefits and causes a chemical change that makes it taste bitter. That is why you should never pour boiling water on honey – that also destroys the beneficial properties and flavour.

Were you always interested in bees?
Not at all. Looking back on the day I arrived in Auckland – it feels like it was prophetic. It was the day of Sir Edmund Hilary’s funeral. I would never have imagined that in a few years I would become as passionate about bees as Sir Ed.