How this Canterbury couple is bringing raw, hive-fresh honeycomb to the masses

No two versions of this untouched honey will be the same — and that’s just how the makers like it. J. Friend & Co is the ‘Earth’ category champion of the 2022 Outstanding NZ Food Producer Awards. 

Words: Lucy Corry

Uncut, raw honeycomb straight from a hive is usually a beekeeper-only perk, a just reward for the sticky business. But after more than three years’ development, Canterbury bee maestro Jeremy Friend has finally nailed bringing that same experience to his customers — no stings attached.

Judges couldn’t fault this “beautiful, gooey, crystal-clear, floral” honey from J. Friend’s 300-odd hives dotted around Canterbury. The honey and its waxy comb are contained within a small wooden frame pulled straight from a hive, tidied up and sealed within compostable cellophane.

“Normally, honeycomb comes out in a big frame and gets cut into pieces and put in a plastic pottle, which is like taking a beautiful, natural product and destroying it by putting it in a petroleum-based container,” Jeremy says.

“We put mini wooden frames in a hive and let the bees do everything else. Every comb is different, and it varies every year. We love it, and it still feels like a treat whenever I have some.”

That’s high praise given that Jeremy and partner Sharyn Woodnorth have been working with honey since 2008, after discovering the richness of regional varietals on a road trip from Auckland to Christchurch. They and their small team now champion, sell and produce artisanal honey under two labels for the local market and overseas. Jeremy says he’d love for New Zealanders to recognize the richness and diversity of our honeys. “Honey should speak of a place and a season. It’s the ultimate gourmet product.”

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About the Outstanding NZ Food Producer Awards

The winners of the sixth Outstanding NZ Food Producer Awards make some of the most delicious food and drink Aotearoa has ever tasted. Salute the medallists and winners and show your support by buying their gourmet treats.


Supreme Champion: Pure Pāua, Chatham Island Food Co, Chatham Islands
Giesen Paddock Co-Champion: Organic Free-Range Marinated Butterfly Chicken, Bostock Brothers Organic Free-Range Chicken, Hawke’s Bay
Giesen Paddock Co-Champion
: Lamb Short Ribs, Middlehurst Delivered, Upper Awatere Valley
Emerson’s Dairy Champion: Marinated Cloud Fresh Goat Cheese in Oil, Nieuwenhuis Farmstead Cheese, Te Hauke
Seafood New Zealand Water Champion: Pure Pāua, Chatham Island Food Co, Chatham Islands
Farro Earth Champion: Uncut Raw Comb Honey of Aotearoa, J. Friend & Co, Christchurch
Label & Litho Drink Champion: Hill Road Orange Juice, Hill Road Orchard, Gisborne

Find the full list of winners here, and medallists here.


NZ Life and Leisure This article first appeared in NZ Life & Leisure Magazine.
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