What’s there not to love about honey! It tastes delicious, has medicinal healing properties and keeps our bees busy pollinating our plants.
This month we are talking to Wally Thrale, our local honey supplier who tells us more about how it all began and shares his success.
How it all began
Around thirty years ago I started keeping bees and over that time I have steadily increased the number of hives. Since I retired from the day job ten years ago, I have increased the number of colonies and am now a semi commercial honey producer.
At school I found a book on beekeeping when I was taking my ‘O’ levels. This sparked an interest so that’s when I had some spare time and was able to attend a training course.
Normally I have two types of bottled honey – set and a blend of runny honey. Wally supplies a small amount of honey available from our Mill shop.
When I harvest honey, it is extracted from the comb by spinning in a centrifuge (a machine). It is then stored in food grade containers until it is bottled.
The honey is gently warmed in a warming cabinet until it is returned to a runny state. It is then strained to remove items such as wax and other impurities and then bottled. It will then keep for many years.
How do bees make honey?
Once the nectar is gathered, the bee stores it in its extra stomach where it mixes with enzymes, and then passes it (via regurgitation) to another bee's mouth. This process is repeated until the nectar becomes partially digested and is then deposited into a honeycomb.
Honey can be used for lots of other things
The set honey is mainly from Oil Seed Rape (OSR) as this source of honey sets very quickly. The reason for this is that OSR is dominant in glucose whereas runny honey is dominant in fructose. Some people buy this honey from me for their hay fever symptoms. They tell me it helps reduce the problem, but I make no claims on this.
These two sugars are the main sugar types in honey. Fructose dominant honey will remain runny for a while, but it will set in time due to the pollen in the honey
My runny honey is a blend of all the honey my bees gather. The other main crop I have is field bean. But there will also be honey from blackberry, lime and other trees.
There will also be garden honey depending where my bees are sited. So, this honey will have a wide selection of sources. Each batch will also taste slightly differently as I use my stock of honey.
Did you know… it takes about 60,000 bees, collectively traveling up to 55,000 miles and visiting more than 2 million flowers, to gather enough nectar to make one pound of honey.
We try to source all our products from local suppliers. This helps us to keep those smaller businesses going, reduces our carbon footprint and offers our customers fair prices and choice.
Come and visit our gardens to see nature at its best.