Honey – that’s what we’re about!
When all goes well we get quite a lot, but it is difficult enough to produce honey in the Irish climate. Forty pounds per year per hive is the dismal average for Ireland. Despite that – all of our honey is Irish, we do not import and we do not blend.
But what sort of honey is it?
Our bees are sited in 7 apiaries throughout West Wicklow and South Kildare and the honey reflects the local flora.
The first crop of the year in this part of the world is the oilseed rape.
- Oilseed Rape is a mild flavoured honey but don’t dismiss it for that. It sets very quickly and often with a strong grain which is particularly good on toast, nice and crunchy and it won’t run up your wrist either. Oilseed rape is a great crop for the bees: lots of lovely fresh pollen and they build up really well on it after the long winter. Sometimes it crops so well we have enough left over to make our delicious honey marmalade. Not for the novice this – full flavoured and strong.
After the rape come the tree honeys. Sycamore, horse chestnut and if we are blessed with warm, humid weather there may be hawthorn.
- Sycamore often gets a bad press from nature conservationists as an alien tree but the bees love it and it is quite reliable given a bit of weather.
- Horse chestnut will be familiar to most people for the large upright candle-like flowers and of course the conkers. If there is a good conker year – thank the bees.
- Hawthorn, also known as whitethorn or Sceach Gheal produces honey which is quite dark in colour and with a flavour second to none – a bit like toffee perhaps but with the same scent as comes from the flowers – stand under a hawthorn hedge one sultry evening and you’ll know what I mean. When the bees are ripening hawthorn honey the scent around the hives in the evening is powerful.
Later comes the main crop which is made up of white clover and the blackberry. Sometimes there may be lime.
- Clover needs 22 degrees C before it will yield nectar and this will stop if the weather is too dry as it is quite shallow rooted. Clover honey is light in colour but has a wonderful flavour.
- Blackberry too is pale in colour with a mild, pleasant flavour. The bees tend to mix clover and blackberry in together.
- Lime is remarkable if the bees oblige by bringing it in on its own – which is rare. It is very light pale green in colour and has a delightful minty flavour.
- Heather honey is out there on its own when it comes to flavour. You either like it or you don’t – it is very thick and dark amber in colour; the flavour is bitter but in a magical musky sort of way. If you make bread, add a spoonful of this – toast is transformed and your kitchen will smell of the mountains. We take the bees to the hills in the late summer for this then bring them home for the winter.
- Ivy honey is honey with attitude. It is dark amber in colour but sets quickly. The flavour is similar in a way to heather but there’s something else in there – something halloween – something of the night!
Cooking with honey
Honey is for sale direct from this Beekeeper. Delivery can usually be arranged locally. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to order.
Comb honey is very much a seasonal treat. Contact me in spring to order it and I’ll tell the bees. Or perhaps you would like your own bees.
Please note – our honey is produced in very small, single apiary batches so the flavour varies depending on when and where the bees gathered the nectar.