Gourmet Life

Sur­rey’s bee­keep­ers have been busy har­vest­ing the county’s honey and now the sweet re­sults of their labour are ready to sam­ple

Surrey Life - - Inside - WORDS: Si­mone Hellyer

The ben­e­fits of bee­keep­ing

Bees are ar­guably one of the few in­sects that peo­ple ac­tu­ally like and there’s one real rea­son for this – honey. Na­ture’s sweet­ener is loved up and down the coun­try for the way it mirac­u­lously trans­forms a dull bowl of por­ridge into some­thing won­der­ful, along with its well­doc­u­mented health ben­e­fits.

And Sur­rey is no ex­cep­tion – this Oc­to­ber there are two na­tional honey fes­ti­vals tak­ing place, which aim to teach us the ben­e­fits of eat­ing honey, how to look after bees and even how to take up bee­keep­ing as a hobby.

The Na­tional Honey show takes place in and around Lon­don ev­ery year and from Thurs­day 25 to Sat­ur­day, Oc­to­ber 27 it lands in Esher at Sandown Park Race­course. The show pro­motes high-qual­ity honey and wax prod­ucts with in­ter­na­tional classes, lec­ture con­ven­tions, work­shops and bee­keep­ing equip­ment. Much of the pro­gramme is aimed at sea­soned bee­keep­ers, but on the Sat­ur­day there will be a se­ries of lec­tures aimed at peo­ple think­ing about tak­ing it up as a hobby.

Also in Oc­to­ber, Reigate Bee­keeper’s Honey Fair will be tak­ing place at the Chris­tian Cen­tre in Dork­ing on Sat­ur­day Oc­to­ber, 20. At the fair, vis­i­tors will be able to find our more about bees and bee­keep­ing at an ob­ser­va­tion hive, take part in craft mak­ing and cake dec­o­rat­ing and sam­ple some lo­cal honey and mead.

Ac­cord­ing to Reigate Bee­keep­ers there are some great health ben­e­fits from choos­ing lo­cal honey over su­per­mar­ket al­ter­na­tives, as mem­ber Julie Thian ex­plains: “Raw, lo­cal honey con­tains a blend of lo­cal pollen, which can strengthen a per­son’s im­mune sys­tem and re­duce pollen al­lergy symp­toms.

“Con­versely, com­mer­cial­lypro­duced honey un­der­goes a dif­fer­ent pro­cess­ing treat­ment, which re­moves ben­e­fi­cial nu­tri­ents like pollen and re­duces its level of an­tiox­i­dants.”

Over the past few years, and es­pe­cially dur­ing this sum­mer’s heat­wave, there has been more aware­ness of the need to help the con­ser­va­tion of bees by pre­serv­ing their habi­tat. Ac­cord­ing to Friends of the Earth, 35 species of bee are on the threat­ened species list, which is a worry when you con­sider that bees pol­li­nate 75 per cent of our main food crops. There­fore, one of the main aims of the Honey Fair is to pro­mote bee­keep­ing as a hobby. “By en­gag­ing with their lo­cal bee­keep­ers, vis­i­tors young and old can find out how it can be­come an ab­sorb­ing hobby and we aim to high­light the ben­e­fits of honey and hon­ey­bees to us and the en­vi­ron­ment,” Julie ex­plains.

Also get­ting in on the lo­cal honey act is Cran­leigh Golf & Coun­try Club, which has re­cently teamed up with a lo­cal bee­keeper to in­stall two bee hives in its grounds. The honey, har­vested in Septem­ber, will be avail­able for the club’s mem­bers to pur­chase through­out au­tumn.

‘Raw, lo­cal honey con­tains a blend of lo­cal pollen, which can strengthen a per­son’s im­mune sys­tem and re­duce pollen al­lergy symp­toms’

What’s get­ting our taste buds wa­ter­ing this month

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