Why buy my honey?
I extract my honey cold by centrifugal force, it drips through a series of sieves to remove any hive or bee bits and then it is kept in 30lb buckets until it is ready to be jarred. If needed, the honey is warmed to just above hive temperature (400C) until it is the right consistency to put into jars. If it is soft set, then it is warmed to a lower temperature. This maintains the natural anti-bacterial properties and the aroma and flavor of the honey.
In contrast, most of the honey in the supermarkets is sourced from abroad, it has been flash heated to about 640C in order to make it stay runny in the jar for longer and it is pressure filtered to remove any pollen. This destroys it’s anti-bacterial properties as well as reduces the aroma and taste.
What sort of honey do the bees produce?
Generally the bees will forage on a variety of sources around the town and countryside. They usually fly up to 3 miles from their hive to source the nectar which they convert to honey.
I do take some of my hives on holiday for a few weeks to Derbyshire in August for the heather. They will also be going to farms in Warwickshire for the beans and borage. This honey is distinctly different from the garden honey in taste and texture. Honey is very much like wine for the different aroma and flavour depending on the source of nectar.
What are the different types of honey?
Heather honey is generally viewed as the best in this country, and according to a review by The Times on 18th November 2014, it is just as good as Manuka. It has a strong honey smell and on toast it is just divine. It has a somewhat gel-like consistency and is a gorgeous dark golden colour.
This is a naturally more runny honey with delicate floral aroma and smell.
The bees have foraged on a range of flowers and trees and so this honey has floral overtones. It can be runny or soft set.
This is a naturally more solid consistency with small honey crystals, but still soft enough to spread. It looks whiter in appearance than runny honey, but it has all the flavour. It is excellent on hot porridge.
This is a more solid honey with bigger honey crystals, Again another super honey for melting on hot porridge or toast. This is naturally more solid because of what the bees have been foraging on. Oilseed rape and blackberry are commonly found in this honey.
This is a piece of honeycomb straight from the hive. This is how people used you have honey in the olden days. It is a piece of honeycomb which has been cut out and put in a container. Only the best honey comb is used for this. It is fantastic on hot toast, as it melts across the surface, some people freeze some of it and then cut thin slices for on top of ice-cream, and some just eat a chunk.
As this is straight from the hive, there may be some pollen in some of the cells. Pollen is a source of protein for the bees, and it is good for us too.
This is a chunk of borage honeycomb in a jar of borage honey. It looks and tastes fantastic. It makes a lovely gift.
All natural honey will crystalise (set). It is one way of telling if it has been heat treated or not. If you prefer your honey runny, just warm it gently. One way to do this is to release the lid and put the jar in warm water (below the rim).That way you will keep the flavor and the anti-bacterial goodness.
How important is the use-by date?
By law, honey producers have to put a use by date on their honey, but because honey is naturally anti-bacterial, it will last for years. There are reports that some honey was found on the pyramids and it was still edible (although that is probably going a bit far!).