Local Ringwood, New Forest Honey - 2020 Harvest notes
Well 2020 – what a very extraordinary year. The Corona virus pandemic has certainly made this a year we will never forget.
I have been extremely grateful to have the apiary right next to where I live, and the wild natural environment has been a very special place to visit each day. Like many people I have been working from home since March and being able to pop out to see the bees during the day has been very comforting.
Scientific backing for the benefits of eating honey
This year it was also interesting to see the University of Oxford University study on the benefits of Honey for treating coughs and colds released. They found that, compared to some usual treatments, consuming honey significantly reduced symptoms, especially cough severity and frequency.
Whilst I could never claim honey is a medical cure, it is interesting to see a scientific study point to the medical benefits.
“Honey has long been known as a traditional treatment for URTI symptoms, such as coughs and sore throat,” said Dr Joseph Lee, researcher, beekeeper and GP, from Oxford University's Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences. “Since 2018 the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and Public Health England (PHE) have recommend the use of honey to treat the symptoms of acute coughs in adults and children five years or older. However, this is based on a review of just three randomised controlled trials. Our work adds to this evidence base and focuses specifically on URTIs.”
“Doctors often prescribe antibiotics for URTIs, even when they could be fairly certain they might offer no clinical benefit, often due to a lack of alternative treatments and an earnest desire to help patients feel better,” said Dr Charlotte Albury, Research Fellow in Health Behaviours and Teaching Lead in Qualitative Research Methods at the University of Oxford's Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences, “This research gives us good quality evidence that can help doctors be confident when suggesting people use honey.”
2020 crop notes
The weather this year has meant a slightly challenging year for the bees. A very hot and dry April, May and June caused some interesting things to happen. A lot of the usual summer wildflowers (eg blackberry and clover) seemed to bloom much earlier in the year. And the very dry early summer also meant that the heather flowers were not so productive around our area.
As a result of the slightly unusual weather, I decided to leave the bees to get on with it until mid-September. But I am happy to report they produced a fantastic crop of honey this year. It’s a mixture of heather (you can tell by the thixotropic gel like consistency of the honey) and a whole bunch of summer flowers including the fabulous Lime tree flowers that blossomed in July.
Extraction wasn’t easy with mixed frames of the gel like heather honey and more runny honey, but I was very pleased with the overall results – over 155llbs of honey this year.
The honey is a darkish colour and has a gorgeous taste. It's reasonably thick and I suspect has a very high sugar content.
As with previous years I've done as little as possible to the honey pre and post extraction. It's pure, raw, unfiltered (except for the sieve to remove bits of wax etc) , unpasteurised and as about as natural as you can get.
2020 in Review
And as the year progressed I took a few snaps of the bees on the flowers they seemed to enjoy most.
The bees start the year on the Dandelions - its a very valuable early food source and I've taken to not cutting the grass to allow them to make the most of it
The Douglas Maples in the Apiary provide a massive amount of resources for thee bees in early spring
The Cotoneaster franchetii was very popular this year with the bees
2020 was also a busy year swarm wise - and the bait hive worked well
I also bottled my first mead (non commercial) this year - it's starting to taste very good now
2020 HONEY'S HONEY RINGWOOD HONEY LABEL
I've decided to keep "Ringwood Honey" the focus for this year's label. After all it's where the bees live and make their delicious honey. I've updated the strapline a little to "Delicious natural unfiltered honey made by happy bees who in the beautiful New Forest" as it encapsulates the product and provenance is everything.
So after a years heard work here's the finished product ready for shipping and local honey deliveries. All in all I'm pretty pleased with this year - a lot of hard work, but I'm very happy with the end result and I hope all that taste it are too..