Making honey in Buckinghamshire


Jed:   Hi there, I'm Jed Marshall, I run British Honey Producers with my wife and daughter. We have about 200 hives and produce honey in bulk primarily for Rowse, who pack for Tesco. We've been doing this for nearly 30 years now.

British honey is particularly good because you get a really good mix of floral sources in there because of the English countryside having a lot of different flora all over the area as well as from the big fields of oilseed rape and that predominantly produces set honey. Each hive needs about 100 pounds of honey to survive per year; the excess above that is for the beekeeper and that can range from nothing to 100 pounds or more.

Generally you'll see most beekeepers dressed in white; bees like light colours. There is a risk of getting stung so we tend to use a hat or veil of some description. In the hive you have a queen bee but the vast majority of bees in there are worker bees. They have what's called a honey stomach inside them which is like a large storage tank. They suck up the nectar from the flower, fill up that large storage tank and then put the honey in the honeycomb in the hive. The bees make honeycomb out of beeswax and the bees store their honey in that. They'll put a little bit of beeswax over the top of the cell to keep the honey fresh.

To get the honey out of the hive we use a little bit of smoke to keep them quiet and then we take the frames out of the hive, cut that wax off the top of the honeycomb and put it in a thing like a big spin dryer, spin it round and all the honey flies out. We produce about ten tons of honey a year, on average.

Bees can actually communicate in a manner that we can understand. They'll do a little waggle dance; the amount of waggle is the distance from the hive that you need to go. And then, every now and then, the bee will feed all the bees that are watching it a little taste of the nectar its gathered from flowers so they know what they will get when they fly off for that distance. And we can actually interpret that ourselves, so bees can actually talk to us.

Jeff:  Hi, I'm Jeff Hammond, sales director at Rowse Honey. We've been working with Tesco for many, many years developing a range of high quality honeys. Tesco work with Rowse because we are the honey experts. We support British beekeeping and buy as much honey from British beekeepers as we can. We've been working with Jed for over 30 years.

The process once Jed has sent his honey into us is very little; we try to do as little as possible to that honey because it's pure and natural. The bees make the honey for us so we simply check it's the right quality and pack into jars ready for you guys.

People should buy British honey because it has a wonderful, delicious sweet floral flavour. It's also good because they can support British beekeeping and support the clever little honeybee because they're very important to the countryside.

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