During the Honey Harvest, we process the honey as little as possible. The combs are placed on an extractor line and sharp blades slice off the 'cappings', a layer of wax covering all the cells filled with honey, to reveal the golden liquid beneath. The honey is extracted via centrifugal force - spinning the honey out of each cell of the combs at high speed before passing through a set of strainers. These strainers remove any foreign object from the honey as well as any large bits of beeswax but allow the 'goodness' such as pollen grains to remain. This honey is then stored in airtight tubs and coded for traceability so we know where it came from and when it was harvested. When honey is harvested and extracted correctly, it can be stored like this for years without being tainted, spoiled or fermenting. In fact, they have found honey in the Egyptian tombs that was still in perfect condition.
When the honey is to be bottled into jars or buckets, we gently warm the honey to make it easier to work with whilst transferring into the containers. This is a process that is carefully monitored to make sure the honey is not damaged by the heat. In fact, the honey is not heated beyond 35 degrees - which is the temperature found inside the brood nest area of a beehive. Once it has been gently warmed, it is passed through a set of filters into large tanks holding up to 600kg ready for bottling. The bottling line automatically fills each container up with honey from the tanks before continuing to pass the container down the line. The lid is then applied by hand and spot checks are made as part of our quality control. Labels are then applied automatically, batch numbers are
printed and the jars are boxed ready to be delivered to the shops or direct to our customer's doors.
Is the honey raw?
Yes, we do not process the honey any more than it needs to be. Apart from a coarse filter to remove the larger bits of beeswax, we add and remove nothing else from it.
Is the honey pasteurised?
No, we do not heat-treat any of our honey.
Is the honey cold-pressed?
No, we extract our honey in a centrifuge which spins at high speed, forcing the honey out of the combs. This does not involve any heat during this process. Although we do heat our honey gently during the bottling process, it is a very low temperature and the honey is not heat treated or pasteurised at any stage. In fact, the honey doesn't get warmer than 35 degrees which is the inside temperature of a bee hive and we believe if the bees are happy with that then we should be too!
Do you feed sugar to the bees?
Only when the bees need it during the Winter months. In normal years, the bees have collected enough nectar and stored enough honey to survive the Winter months. However, sometimes after a wet Summer or a mild Winter (a mild Winter means the bees are more active and therefore they tend to eat more) it can leave them short. This is where we step in and feed them sugar until they can look after themselves again. Sugar is never fed while collecting honey to ensure any honey harvested is that produced from Nectar.
My clear honey has turned thick, or has crystallised. What can i do?
Don't worry, this is a completely natural process that all honey goes through. There is nothing wrong with the honey and it can still be eaten, however, if you would prefer your honey clear then you just need to warm the honey up to clear the crystals back down again. You can do this by standing the jar of honey in a saucepan of hot water until it has cleared. This can take a few hours depending on how crystallised the honey has become. You can also microwave the honey but make sure you remove the metal lid and stir regularly during the process to make sure it clears down evenly.