Stylish Weekends | May 26, 2016 | Lifestyle
Save the bees!
Hives, honey and afternoon tea chic
Urban bee farming is the newest buzzword – and it’s a tempting proposition: help to grow the inner city bee population and make a move towards living sustainably, all at the same time.
It’s enough to get you pulling on your bee suit and summoning every swarm in the city – which is just what some urban apiarists are doing.
Here’s a quick guide to setting up your own apiary – plus, if you’re not tempted to DIY, we’ve got the best places to source urban honey.
How to set up
Beekeeping set up costs – hive, suit and a swarm or two – can reach £800 but then running costs drop to £200 a year. If you’re sold on becoming a city-dwelling hobby apiarist, contact Urban Bees, a social enterprise giving training courses, advice and helping to set up city apiaries all over the UK.
The Barefoot Beekeeper argues a strong case for cheaper, simpler top bar hives, which are both bee and keeper friendly. The site is packed full of free guides, including podcasts, e-books, articles, videos and a well-used forum. It also lists upcoming training courses taking place all over the country.
Honey is a health powerhouse – said to heal wounds, cure sore throats and boost immune systems and energy levels. Where your hives are sited will determine the honey produced – wild flowers and sweet blossoms mean a drippy, liquid honey, while rape seed creates a harder, smooth honey.
Sourcing the sweet stuff
If you’re not ready to produce your own but want to support small honey producers, these favourites are a great place to start:
Capital Bee, South London
Camilla Goddard at Capital Bee in Brockley has been keeping bees for more than a decade.
“People were talking about bees dying out, so I began collecting swarms and starting my own colonies,” she says. As well as teaching beekeeping, she produces her own honey to sell, describing urban honey as having a wonderful, complex flavour.
Heather Hills, Perthshire
Family-run business Heather Hills employs a dedicated honey sommelier who picks out a connoisseur range of monofloral honeys, with rich flavours of lavender and chestnut. Tasting and pairing notes suggest cheese, meats and even cocktails to match.
Littleover Apiaries, eastern counties
Littleover’s cold extracted and cold filtered honeys are produced in apiaries from as far north as the North Yorkshire Moors, where bees create sought-after heather honey.
New Quay Honey Farm, Ceredigion
As well as its popular blended wildflower honey, this farm has created its own meadery – selling the traditional alcoholic honey drink. Try as many varieties as you dare in the on-site shop.
Oxford Honey Company, Oxfordshire
Natural goodness, happy bees, a preserved environment – the Oxford Honey Company focuses on the best high-quality raw honey, developed through a love of beekeeping.