We passionately believe that bees produce the best tasting and most beneficial honey if we let them live and work as nature intended, and as they have done very successfully for over 100 million years according to recent scientific discoveries (that’s a lot longer than we humans have been around!).
Sadly, modern beekeeping “science” dictates that beekeepers should constantly meddle with the way their bees live in order to make them more productive or to (allegedly) protect them from all manner of identified illnesses, pests and parasites. Furthermore, once honey has been harvested from beehives it is subjected to processing techniques such as heating and extreme filtering in order to reduce the costs of production and create an “aesthetically pleasing” product which is easier to sell.
We at Purely Bees challenge these views – honey is (quite rightly) renowned as one of the most pure and natural foodstuffs available today with widely vaunted health benefits; so why should we do anything to detract from that just to make our lives easier?
That’s why we keep our bees and produce our honey in the most natural way we can:
- Our bees, kept in a combination of standard bee hives and top bar hives, are allowed to live as nature intended – meaning that we open the hives as seldom as possible, and we don’t apply chemicals and pesticides to the bees as is common practice in the industry (That being said, we remain conscientious and monitor our bees for reportable and virulent diseases as required by law). We believe that our practice minimises the risk of noxious chemicals infiltrating the honey produced by the bees, and also maximises the harmony of our bees, as it is a recognised fact that opening beehives regularly for inspection stresses the bees – which we feel inevitably has some impact on the quality of the honey produced.
- We always leave our bees with ample reserves of their own honey to survive through the winter – after all, that’s why they store up honey in the first place! Conventional beekeeping practices tend to favour removing as much honey as possible from the bees, and then feeding them sugar water to compensate – a poor substitute for the real thing ... We feel our practice ensures that our bees remain as healthy as possible and again must contribute to the quality of the honey they produce. Furthermore, there is always a risk that in feeding sugar water to bees, some of the “honey” produced from that could end up in the honey harvested for human consumption – which then is no longer pure natural honey!
- We use the least disruptive methods possible to harvest our honey; fully “ripe” honeycomb sections are manually selected and gently crushed then coarse filtered without any heating of the honey (retaining much of the valuable pollen present in the honey). Conventional honey extraction techniques use centrifugal extractors to indiscriminately “fling” the honey out of the honeycomb at high speed, then heat the honey to allow it to be filtered rapidly through fine filters so that it looks “polished”. We believe our practices preserve the essential character of the honey by first of all only processing honey which is “ripe” (meaning that the bees have deemed it fit to preserve by covering the honeycomb cells with a layer of wax); secondly heating the honey is known to destroy valuable enzymes it contains; and thirdly filtering out most of the pollen removes one of the most beneficial constituents of the honey.
Another important aspect is that our honey is locally produced, processed and sold – in other words there is a very low carbon footprint. Most commercially produced honey is a blend of honeys from across the EU or even across the world.