Page last updated at 14:05 GMT, Saturday, 20 June 2009 15:05 UK

Cornish manuka bees create a buzz

Tregothnan Estate manuka honey
Manuka honey-soaked dressings have been used on cancer patients

Supplies of a honey renowned for its health benefits have sold out in the first month of production at an estate in Cornwall.

The manuka honey, which has previously only been produced in New Zealand, comes from hives at the Tregothnan estate near Truro.

It is claimed to ease sore throats, acne, sunburn, gum disease and digestive problems.

Despite a £55 price tag, the first batch has run out.

It was launched last month at the Chelsea Flower Show.

Among other uses, the honey has been used to soak dressings for cancer patients in Manchester to reduce the risk of contracting MRSA and to reduce inflammation.

'Bumper crop'

The manuka bush, native to New Zealand, has been grown at Tregothnan since the 19th Century.

Its white blooms have long been sold as cut flowers, but about three years ago the estate began to explore using the plantation for honey.

It built two £5,000 hives, which are designed to maintain the right temperature and humidity.

Jonathon Jones, the director of Tregothnan, said manuka honey had become so well known that people were "happy to pay a premium".

Tea growers in Cornwall
Tregothnan also grows and exports tea leaves to China and India

"All stocks have sold out and we now need to see what happens over the next four to six weeks," Mr Jones said.

"The bees really work hard when the temperature is about 20 degrees Celsius so if the weather stays nice over the next 10 days it could be a bumper crop."

The estate stretches for more than 50 miles down to Land's End and has been in the hands of the Boscawen family since 1335.

The sixth Viscount Falmouth, Evelyn Boscawen, and his brother introduced rhododendrons and planted the first outdoor camellias in Europe in the 19th Century.

The manuka bushes were brought to the estate in 1888 by Canon Arthur Boscawen.

"We have had visits from manuka specialists from New Zealand and we have had offers from honey producers to do their own research, which we are happy to do," said Mr Jones.

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