FARMING MATTERS: Prize winning honey created on the farm

Earlier this year some honey bees came to live on our farm.

Three hives remained here from May through to the end of October and once a week their owners, Helen and Jonathan Palmer came along to check them.

Next year the bees will return, but for now they are back living in the Palmer’s garden, where it is easier to look after them through the winter months.

During the summer they were with us, we sold their honey in our small farm shop, and the Palmers also entered the honey into the National Honey Show.

To the absolute delight of all of us, the honey produced here on our farm won the E H Thorne Trophy for two jars of medium honey.

Mrs Palmer said: “That’s quite good, there were 70 entries in the class, I was very pleased.”

When bees forage, they cover a three mile radius from the hive, and so honey enjoys the unique flavour of the area where the hives are located.

Mrs Palmer said: “The honey from the farm was darker than that from the hives we kept at home and it had a different taste. I think it was because of the white clover in the fields where the cows graze, and there was some damp weather through the summer as well. It’s quite a strong tasting honey from the farm, the honey from home is a lot more floral.”

Mrs Palmer has always had an interest in bees, but didn’t start keeping them until a few years ago when she and her husband moved to a more rural location. She went on a beginner’s course and then bought a nucleus of bees with six frames and 20,000 bees from another beekeeper.

As an alternative to buying a nucleus, beekeepers can collect a swarm or put out a bait hive and hope a swarm will find it, but that can be a bit random and there is no knowledge of their provenance.

To harvest the honey, it is extracted from the hive, spun, filtered and then put into warmed jars and can be eaten straight away. Mrs Palmer now has 50,00 bees and achieved 68 kilos of honey in total this year.