Fringe Box



Beekeeper’s Notes: Why Even Guildford Has Such A Variety Of Honeys

Published on: 1 Nov, 2018
Updated on: 3 Nov, 2018

By Hugh Coakley

Before I started keeping bees, I thought that honey was more or less the same wherever you got it. Oh foolish person!

Little did I know that there was a vast variety of honey available even in a small town like Guildford. It isn’t difficult to see why.

Honey displays at the National Honey Show

Honey displays at the National Honey Show in 2016 with a range of honeys from a delicate yellow to nearly treacle-coloured.

Our urban areas, with large and small gardens, building sites, river banks and parks, have a huge range and diversity of wild and cultivated flowers. Any bees foraging in these areas will get whatever is there at the time. But then they will make a lovely multi-floral honey.

Closer to the countryside, you have more of a chance – or a risk – of a single crop honey.

It can be oil-seed rape in the spring which goes solid if you don’t extract it quickly enough. Or even the prized heather honey for those living close to the heather on Whitmoor Common for instance or at Hindhead.

Because I keep my bees in the same locality, I tend to get a more or less predictable honey each year. My honey is generally light and floral in the spring and darker and more fruity in the autumn but even that varies from year to year.

Whatever it is, every local beekeeper’s honey will be unique and different. I think that I read that the UK beekeeper keeps on average only four hives, getting around 150 to 200 lbs of honey each year.

Shop around in butchers and farm shops and try the differences.

An article in this month’s beekeeper’s magazine reported the findings from Dublin City University and Trinity College Dublin that Irish heather honey has similar levels of powerful antioxidants as Manuka honey. Presumably, it would also apply to English or even the humble Guildford heather honey?

The same magazine reported on testing of supermarket honeys in Australia. Twelve of the 28 samples taken were found to be adulterated. EU testing in 2015 found 14% of honeys in the supply chain had added sugar.

The message is to buy local. You can get a surprising variety of pure, local honeys, and even the benefits of Manuka but without the air-miles.

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