Beekeeping is a hands-on job: all of the senses are engaged when working with bees: touch, smell, hearing, vision and finally, most delightfully, taste. It is a truly immersive craft.
Despite the hirsute and rough-hewn appearance of many motor-bikers, they have a legendary attachment to the motorcycles which they ride. So it is with beekeepers (the “hirsute and rough-hewn” description only applies to the males of the species, obviously) and the deep affection which they have for their bees.
The purpose of this blog is to inform and to entertain: this post falls squarely into the first category. After several months confined to the hive, my Suffolk bees took advantage of a warmer day to take a short flight last weekend. Why ? Those of a delicate disposition should look away now… Continue reading “Voiding”
We’re lucky that we are neighbours to a Jamie Oliver Teaching Kitchen in Orford Primary School. During late August, with the summer holidays coming to an end, we move our extraction and filtering equipment, together with honeybuckets and jars, into this pristine food-quality environment, we spin out and then cold-filter the honey harvest, prior to ripening the honey and then pouring it into jars.
In the last week of November, with the bees all safely tucked up for winter, I had two speaking engagements. One was in rural Suffolk and the other in gritty Hackney. Each addressed a very different topic. The first was to an audience of fellow beekeepers, the second to a bevy of young food and drink entrepreneurs. The theme of the initial talk was a genteel one: “Preparing Honey For Show”, while the next was the fire-branding: “Bees Can’t Eat Kind Words”.
As fans of our award-winning Bermondsey Street Honey and our Suffolk Coastal Honey know, we sell out very quickly every year. Now, alongside the honey we make, we’re launching two curated labels, Union & Metro, on sale at our local B Street Deli Continue reading “Introducing Two Bermondsey Street Bees “Guest” Honeys”
Here’s a soothing duet of bees and birdsong from a Suffolk garden. Well, more bees than birdsong, really. But if you like bees, you’ll find it deeply relaxing !
Betty is our beautiful new honeybee emblem. We commissioned her from one of Britain’s most celebrated illustrators, Chris Wormell – renowned for his wood and linocuts of natural subjects.
We gave Chris a tough brief: we wanted a linocut in the English Folk Art tradition, to underline the artisan nature of our honey. However it also had to be scientifically accurate…. on top of which we muttered something about the image having ‘personality’ …
So, all in all, quite a big ask for quite a small picture. But here she is, just as we wanted. Thank you Chris for responding so brilliantly !
Fans of Southwold-based Adnams Brewery will recognize Chris Wormell’s work from the evocative series of Suffolk scenes it commissioned from him.
Thanks also to our always-inspiring graphic designer Lydia Thornley who has been hard at work on our new identity and website (all will be revealed later this year) and who first recommended Chris to us.
Sarah and I were delighted to receive a collection of wonderful bee-drawings made by the pupils of Orford CEVA Primary School, following our bee-education day in March.
Here are some random samples of the art-work.
In particular, we loved the vibrant colours and the many different interpretations of a bee’s anatomy.
We marked them all 10 out of 10! Full marks!
The beekeeping world has been rocked to its foundation by an amazing new exhibit at the Ideal Hive Show: Serge Pantalon has invented a hive without bees. “We’ve taken the “eek” out of beekeeping,” said Avril Fule, Animatrice Générale of the Institut Pantalon. “What’s left is “beeping” – yep, it’s “beeping” important, too: no bees,” Avril purred: “And it’s called the PHOOLE (Pantalon Hive Omni-Original Limited Edition).”
A prompt-card fluttered to the ground, proclaiming: “In early 2015, zeitgeist mentor, paradigm-shifter and philosopher Serge Pantalon saw a gap in the market.” Avril shuffled the card back into the deck and continued: “That was where art met evolution. Serge had spent years listening to beekeepers moaning on and on about this, that and the other: stings, swarms, varroa, unflattering bee-suits, anaphylactic shock. It was obvious that problem with beekeeping was the bees. So why not liberate the bees from the drudge of honey production and the beekeepers from the burden of looking after the bees? It’s the simple genius of subtractive intuition. Thinking outside the box. Literally. I mean, the box hasn’t been made that Serge can’t think outside of. He can even think without a box at all ! In fact, Serge is the sort of guy who unticks all sorts of boxes.”
Avril took a sip of water and gestured towards the standard PHOOLE, with its simple set of instructions (slightly smudged onto a single folded sheet of A4) which guides the owner of a new PHOOLE to achieve perfect plug ‘n’ play honey production. The technique is to buy a jar of your favourite honey and pump it into the printer. The printer then layers the honey into the cells and seals the honeycomb with wax. Then it uncaps the cells and spins out the honey, passing it through filters and ripening it for a few days, before putting it back in the jar. The whole process should take less than a week – and hey presto! A jar of your favourite honey – with nary a bee in sight!
Avril chimed: “Yes, It may be a little more expensive initially (it’s about the price of a small family car) and yes, it looks just like an empty beehive, but in fact it is packed with post-modern irony and Serge’s subtractive creativity.” A bystander muttered that it looked pretty much like an ordinary beehive. “Oh no,” Avril retorted: “Each PHOOLE has a numbered swing-tag verifying its authenticity, in a very real sense of the word. PHOOLEs are very collectable. Every family should have one.”
Jess Maidytup, On-Line Healing Technician for The Racing Post, enthused: “We’re now seeing honeybees liberated from millions of years of servitude as unpaid honey-toilers in the workhouse. Casting off their shackles, our worker-bee sisters and half-sisters are free to pursue more fulfilling careers as trainee bomb-detectors, stockbrokers or professional dancers.” She drew breath and continued: “Not since the Corby Trouser Press revolution in the 1960s liberated women from ironing the bottom two-thirds of trouser legs has such a wave of female creative energy been released from mundane tasks. Let’s face it, bees need hives like Top Gear needs Clarkson or a kingfisher needs a weasel.”
Describing himself as a recently-lapsed member of the general public, student Freddie Furstheim-Voda had just visited the PHOOLE stand and came away agog: “Cool. I’ve just been shown the prototype of the new PHONI (Pantalon Hive Original Network Installation). It’s a beehive which has been 3D-printed into the form and function of a mobile phone. No, yes. It’s awesome. A bit sticky with the external honey-tap option, though” (Editor’s note: honey-tap accessory does not come as standard). “So I’ve ordered a colour-matched shower-cap from PHONI accessory catalogue to wear when I’m, y’know, facetiming on the hand-held”.
At that stage a curious honeybee buzzed into the room pursued by a Health and Safety officer wearing a high-visibility jacket, flapping his arms and shouting: “Step away!” he barked. He continued: “A wild animal has entered the premises and I have reason to believe that it is venomous. I have no option but to put the whole of South Kensington into lock-down, including this here courtesy bar and first-aid area. Please evacuate the building,” as he took aim with his Taser.
« Et voilà » shrugged the great man himself.