Local Ringwood, New Forest Honey - 2019 Harvest Notes
Local Ringwood New Forest Honey 2019 Harvest Notes
Extraction and tasting notes
2019 was a pretty good year for the bees, but with a rainy June and very hot July, the nectar flow has been a bit up and down. 45 lbs were extracted this year - just a little less than 2018.
I extracted the honey slightly earlier this year to give the bees plenty of time to build up stores for winter - they will forage on the New Forest heather (about a mile away) and Ivy before they settle down for the winter.
The honey is lighter in colour than last year and has an exquisite taste. The lighter colour comes, I think, from the abundance of clover and the honey has a delicate aftertaste from the Lime (Linden) trees that blossomed in late July.
I'm no doctor and you can't make medical claims about the benefits of honey, but according to the honeytraveler.com website, the reported benefits of Lime / Linden honey include "treating colds and fevers as a diaphoretic, and it is used as a fortifying agent and supports the heart. In Eastern Europe and Russia, it is widely used in the treatment of sore throat, rhinitis, and laryngitis. Linden honey mixed with lemon is used to overcome upcoming colds, and along with tea is said to help in the treatment of liver and gall bladder, and relieve inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract."
As with previous years I've done as little as possible to the honey pre and post extraction. It's pure, raw, unfiltered, unpasteurised and as about as natural as you can get.
2019 Honey's Honey Ringwood Honey label
I've decided to make "Ringwood Honey" the focus for this year's label. After all it's where the bees live and make their delicious honey. I've also added the following strap-line "Delicious natural unfiltered honey made by happy bees who live next to the beautiful New Forest" as it encapsulates the product and provenance is everything.
2019 Honey's Honey Ringwood Honey label
2019 Apiary diary
2019 has been a super busy year in the apiary. I spent much of the winter months preparing the new apiary site, clearing a lot of overgrown areas, and raking the ground to encourage new growth in the spring.
The bees have spent the year in their new home and all in all it's been a great location for them.
The bees live in a pretty idyllic location in Ringwood, bordering the New Forest
The soil in the apiary is pretty poor, with a lot of gravel and stones in it so to help improve things and provide some rich nitrogen into the soil, I planted a lot of White Clover (Trfiolium repens) which also gave the bees some amazing summer nectar and all sorts of wildlife a valuable source of food.
One of the benefits of managing the land a little bit is the abundance of wildlife that it's now attracting. I'm really pleased that it's now attracting all sorts of regular visitors.
Along with hundreds of insects, butterflies, birds, foxes and the odd rabbit, there's a family of deer that seem to have made the area their home and a welcome inhabitant is the rare slow worm - a legless lizard and endangered species in the UK.
Interested in what the bees have been feeding on this year?
I've tried to be much more diligent with recording what the bees have been forging on throughout the year.
The bees can travel up to 2 miles from the apiary so I don't know all the flower species they've visited, but I have taken note of all the flowers in the apiary and garden that I've seen them foraging on.
In the early spring months it was mostly Dandellion and Wild Artic Daisies providing a valuable source of pollen.
Dandellion and Wild Artic Daisy
The first significant spring nectar came from the Douglas Maple trees that border the apiary.
Douglas Maple in bloom
As spring turned to summer, the following were in abundance:
And during July and August the bees worked the following:
Majorana Hortensis, a wild variety of Oregano
Lime (Linden) Tree - gives the honey a gorgeous delicate aftertaste
To cope with increased demand for the delicious Ringwood New Forest Honey, I've been slowly building up the apiary.
Early summer swarm caught in a bait hive
I caught a swarm in June by using a bait hive in the apiary. I'm pretty sure it was from one of my hives, but never the less it was good to be able to catch them. Over the summer it's built up into a good sized colony.
Natural honey comb built by one of the swarms
In July, I was called about a very large swarm that had descended in Ringwood town centre and spent an enjoyable evening watching the bees go into the Nuc (a small hive) and talking to curious passers by.
This swarm has done really well this year and is very strong.
Swarm caught in Ringwood town centre
As the summer starts to draw to a close, I've got 4 healthy hives which should mean a lot more honey next year. Fingers crossed.