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Lincolnshire Raw Honey

Updated: Mar 21

A visual and analytical look at our hives through the year and how we produce our honey

My husbunny Paul has been keeping bees for about four years. I really admire his 'stick-at-it-ness' as we have had a few setbacks, but last year it all came together and we finished the summer with three full hives and about 40 jars of surplus honey. Our own honey consumption is huge as I have honey and lemon every night year round and Paul likes to sweeten his tea with it so to have so much spare shows what a great year the bees had. The honey quality was exceptional. It has a very rich appley taste with a floral

The main hives shown in these photos are in a rural fruit orchard situated beside the flower meadow at the back of our garden. The flower meadow, the orchard and my garden are organic and are tended to with minimal interaction. A light prune for the apple, pear and plum trees every few years with the odd grass mowing and the meadow gets mowed and baled every harvest time. We are situated in rural countryside, surrounded by the Lincolnshire Fens. The nearest shop is about four miles away and whilst we do have a local pub in the village, there are no other amenities, though the chip van does visit on a Wednesday!

The Flower Meadow

The wildflower meadow has been set aside (not laid to crops) for over 25 years. The wildflowers are quite spectacular, there just aren't the words to describe the colours and these photographs do not do it justice. Purple and pink grasses, lilac Salsify, orange


hawkweed and wildflower, several different yellow flowers have all flourished and with the heavy rain we had for the first quarter of the year the grasses were unusually shoulder-high!


It was quite a magical place and I spent a fair bit of time listening to the sweet bird sounds (have the sound turned up on the video) as the windy voice of earth whispered and rustled the dry grasses. It was such a shame this year when they harvested it. They cut it in July, but this year it was mid-June, really early!

The HUGE farm machinery has to squeeze down our drive as that is the only access to the meadow. It takes them three days generally to mow, fluff and then bale the hay and the smell is divine, that sweet smell of summer hotness with the dryness of heavy dust as the tractor passes.

Having the meadow, which is roughly the size of a football pitch, at the back of our garden is an absolute treasure and not a day goes by without knowing how lucky we are. There are pheasants, bats, owls

and deer that can all be watched as they go about their days and nights. The deer is very brave and comes into the garden to snack on my tulips every Spring!! I DO NOT approve!

The Fruit Orchard
Just a short walk across the corner of the meadow and we are in the fruit orchard, which was planted by the current family about forty years ago. They have never used chemicals on their land so the apple, pear and plum trees are totally organic. It is in a perfect location as the hive is protected from north winds by a heavy hedgerow and people rarely walk in the orchard so it is always very peaceful and natural. The whole area is very 'Darling Buds Of May' and you really experience a true Lincolnshire lost in time where old

traditions are locked away in every blade of grass and every leaf. When we tend to the bees using techniques as old as the fens you can't but think you're helping to keep traditions and old values alive.

Through the year
SPRING

The bees are spoiled for choice when it comes to flowers. From early in the year they have an abundance of flowers in my organic cottage garden and then a little later all the fruit blossoms come out in the orchard. As soon as we have a few warm sunny days Paul will open the hives to check how they have coped with Winter. Depending on whether they have any honey stores he will decide when to take any surplus. We only take what is spare, including keeping a tub of honey as emergency feed for the bees in case we have a harsh winter.
SUMMER

If the bees give us honey in Spring, they are left to it through Summer. However last year they had no spare honey in Spring so we extracted it in Summer. This means the surplus supply will vary each year, not just in quantity but also availability. The flowers are still in abundance as I have planted a cottage garden full of flowers specifically for the bees.

AUTUMN

As the weather changes and the first dampness of Autumn can be felt in old bones we check the hives and consider what preparations may be needed to help the bees through winter. Once Winter brings cold North winds and frosts are more common than not, the front of the hives are blocked up a little, so rather than a post-box-slot type opening essential for hectic summer activity, a bar is fitted so the slot becomes a few holes helping to keep the cold out. The garden is full to the brim with 15ft sunflowers and lavender. Once there are no longer bees on the lavender I hand-harvest and dry the flowers which I later use in my birdies and wands.

Over Winter the bees are left to their hibernation. If it gets very cold Paul may put up a windbreaker about 5 feet away from the hive front to protect the little front openings. It is simply a piece of board staked to the ground which also prevents drifting snow covering the hive entrance In extreme circumstances it may be necessary to wrap the hive in bubble wrap.

Honey Production


On a hot sunny day Paul takes the wheelbarrow through the meadow to the orchard to collect the honey. At mid-day when most of the bees are out collecting honey he opens the hive, gently using a bee brush to carefully remove them from the honeycomb. We both get upset if so much as one bee gets hurt in the process. It is exhausting as the honey is very heavy, the weather very hot and the suit is cumbersome and restrictive. Once a bee got into Paul's suit but there was nothing he could do until he had put the hive back together. He got stung so many times and his foot was enormous.


From hive to jar is about an hour. The honey is put into a spinner then through a sieve before finally it's collected in a honey bucket. This has a special tap allowing jars to be

filled. It is 100% pure and raw. Pure means it is 'gently filtered and nothing added' and raw means it is 'as it exists in the hive'. Once in jars I add the tamper proof seal, handmade tag and a sticker on the bottom. I have also made a little information card talking about the honey and there is the option to buy a jar as a gift. The gift box is full of sweet-smelling Timothy hay scattered with dried rose and sweet pea petals collected from my garden and includes a little honey dibber. Attention has been made to the wrapping,

which is brown recycled paper decorated with honey bees and held together with golden-coloured organza ribbon embellished with a wooden bee. As a gift for a honey or bee lover, it is 'sweet' and cottagey, a lovely traditional Lincolnshire gift!


Please note I only list three jars at a time, as four jars double the postage due to the weight. If you need more than three just message me and we can sort something out!

Each year the colour and taste will vary just slightly.

Lincolnshire raw honey jar count until next harvest: 0
However, message me if you would like to go on my Honey List for when we have the next harvest in May or June



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