A young Whanganui beekeeper hosted one of the world's biggest marketers of mānuka honey for a day in December.

Johann Ander, the owner and manager of Yobees Honey, began his relationship with Japan's Yamada Bee Farm in March 2016 when Te Tumu Paeroa/The Māori Trustee asked him to advise it on mānuka honey production in New Zealand.

Then in 2017 Ander was invited to spend a month in Japan at the Yamada Bee Farm. He had also started supplying it with mānuka honey - both his own and honey from other suppliers.

The orders grew - from an initial five tonnes a year to 20 tonnes a year recently. Yobees produces about two tonnes of the honey itself.

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Ander goes around New Zealand finding honey to add to the total and blends it before export.

In mid-December last year the bee farm's chief executive Hideo Yamada came to New Zealand for a whirlwind tour of the North Island. He wanted to find out more about the mānuka honey industry.

He visited Te Tumu Paeroa to form relationships iwi providers and met a Waikato University professor with mānuka knowledge and a family in Rotorua.

He spent a day with Ander, saw his honey operation and did some filming for a television commercial.

The honey he wants to buy is rated 10 or more for ultra mānuka factor (UMF). Its popularity is growing in Japan, where it is used in health and skin care products.

It is tested in both New Zealand and Japan to ensure it meets standards.