We have apiaries situated on the Norfolk/Suffolk border from where we collect the honey and pop it into jars. Our honey is usually available from local retail outlets and not from the apiary:-
Greenfields, 2 Crab Lane Bradwell, Norfolk. NR31 8DJ
Greenfields has recently moved to a bright new shop and sells fruit and vegetables - some grown locally in Browston; flowers and plants; and home made jams and other items.
The taste varies according to the plants that are flowering at the time, so as a natural product it will vary from year to year and throughout the season. We don’t blend or add anything at all and it is all gathered from plants local to the apiary. There’s no need to add anything to the honey so we don't do it. It's also not legal to do so! We sell honey as 'runny honey' and sometimes soft-set honey for most of the year. Honey is usually extracted as 'runny-honey' and is quite fluid. However it will set after a period of time with the speed of setting governed by the type of sugars present - mainly glucose and fructose. Some honeys will set 'spoon-bendingly' hard which is why we may have to warm it to make it runny again.
High levels of glucose will cause the honey to set quickly with a fine grain. High fructose honey sets slowly but with a grainy texture. In order to liquify it again, honey can be heated. The best way is to put it in a bowl of hot water and allow it to return to its liquid state slowly. However if you don't have to patience for that it can be microwaved on low power for one minute, stir, heat more, stir, until it is runny; but don't overheat as it can impair the flavour. 50C is the maximum temperature it should get to.
Honey or Raw Honey?
Some suppliers refer to "artisan" honey such as ours as 'raw' honey however this terminology has no meaning with regard to the UK honey regulations we abide by and there is no consensus as to what RAW actually means. Note that honey from the large manufacturers, that you would purchase in a supermarket, has generally been heat-treated and fine-filtered to stop it setting for a long time in the jar. The heat-treatment may remove valuable enzymes from the honey and the fine filtering removes pollen grains. (We don't fine-filter our honey although it does pass through two stainless steel sieves which leaves the pollen in the honey). We think that the best honey comes straight from the hive, avoiding industrial processes!
Picture left: A comb of honey. You can see the white cappings over the hexagonal honey comb. To extract the honey we cut off the cappings before the frames of honeycomb are put in the extractor and 'spun out'. The cappings can be fed back to the bees who will remove any remaining honey or it can be used to make mead. The empty frames are returned to the hive - hopefully for re-filling! Any excess wax is saved and used. In winter, the comb is stored so that wax moths cannot get at it.
Beehives are next to a field of 'pollinator friendly' plants. Phacelia is the predominant purple plant visible. Some plants produce both nectar and pollen; some produce one or the other. Pollen comes in all colours from off-white to yellow, blue, orange, red and black. Poppies produce black pollen but no nectar, for example. Pollen can be seen in the bees 'pollen baskets' or corbiculae on their back legs when they fly back to the hive. Pollen carrying bees pack the pollen in cells themselves once the get back home.