Bees create Manuka honey by collecting nectar from the flowers of the Manuka bush, which is native to New Zealand and parts of Australia. The nectar is then stored in the bees' honey stomachs, where enzymes begin to break down the sugars in the nectar.
Once the bees return to the hive, they regurgitate the nectar into the honeycomb and begin to fan their wings to evaporate the excess water, which concentrates the sugars and turns the nectar into honey. The bees then seal the honeycomb with beeswax to preserve the honey for future use.
The unique properties of Manuka honey come from the Manuka bush itself. The nectar of the Manuka bush contains high levels of a compound called dihydroxyacetone (DHA), which is converted into methylglyoxal (MGO) as the honey is formed. MGO is responsible for many of the antibacterial properties of Manuka honey and is used to measure the potency of the honey using the Unique Manuka Factor (UMF) rating system.
It's important to note that while bees play an important role in creating Manuka honey, not all honey produced by bees that feed on the Manuka bush is considered Manuka honey. To be considered genuine Manuka honey, the honey must meet specific criteria for the concentration of MGO and other factors, as determined by the UMF rating system.