Please phone or email me (contact details at the bottom of this page).
Raw honey has been neither heated nor filtered. Unless you see the term raw on a honey label, you can assume that it's processed. Most honeys, including pure and natural ones, are treated to prevent fermentation and preserve it in a liquid state in order to keep it from crystallizing. These techniques make the product more appealing to consumers; shoppers generally prefer to pick up a bottle of clear, golden honey, because that's what we're used to. Advocates for eating raw honey believe those who choose conventional honey might be missing out on certain benefits:
My name is Chris Knight and I am a beekeeper. Becoming a "beek" had been an ambition of mine for several years before I took early retirement then took the plunge and set up my own beehives in our garden in Sevington, Kent. The idea came from reading a newspaper article about the decline of honeybees in the UK. It also said that many people were now taking up beekeeping as a hobby. These new beekeepers came from all walks of life and did not necessarily have a large amount of land for their hobby. Luckily, we had quite a large garden with a fenced-off vegetable patch that was the perfect place for a beehive – far enough from the house and safe from our two dogs.
I made contact with a well known local beekeeper who was offering introductory beekeeping courses. I went along and was immediately hooked. Learning the theory was all well and good, but opening up a real, live beehive for the first time (albeit under the watchful eye of my mentor) was quite a scary experience. But the bees and I got along just fine. So, instead of setting up a beehive in the garden, I set up two. Soon, two became three and so my hobby kept growing
There are several benefits to becoming a beekeeper. A steady supply of honey is probably the most obvious one! However, I soon discovered there was a lot more to this beekeeping lark. The bees pollinate the garden so well that everything grows so much better. So we had fresh honey and lots of vegetables & fruit straight from the garden.
I joined The British Beekeepers Association and the local (Ashford) Beekeepers Association and we met up regularly to discuss all matters beekeeping. As they were mostly much more experienced than I was, I picked up hints and tips on how to improve my skills. I also regularly attended beekeeping training courses at the Kent Science Park in Sittingbourne.
The first crop of honey made me realise why home produced honey was so popular. It tasted much better than the blended honey bought from a supermarket. Throughout the season, there were slight variations in the taste and the colour of our honey due to the bees foraging on different flowers and plants as the season changed. In 2010 we bought our own 12 acre wood in Kenardington, Kent and I set up another seven beehives here. So, in addition to the garden honey, we now had woodland honey.
The only problem we discovered – what to do with all this honey apart from eating it or giving it away to friends and family? So we started selling the honey at Wye Farmers Market. We had a regular stall at the market throughout the season and it was very successful. Unfortunately, 2013 was a disaster for most beekeepers. The weather was appalling with a late spring and a wet summer. Just the things that bees hate. During the winter of 2012/13, despite my best efforts, I lost five hives. The size of the honey crop from my remaining hives was poor and we only had enough honey for one session at Wye Farmers Market and then we sold our entire stock of honey at the Willesborough Windmill Craft and Heritage Fair in August. Eventually our honey become so popular, that we were selling all our honey from our house now. When we had honey available, I just put a "Honey for Sale" sign on our gatepost and we sold it as fast as we could put it into jars.
As with all things, there was a downside to all this. As a senior member of the Ashford Beekeepers Association once said to me – “You can never have enough equipment”. Oh boy – was he spot on! My once-tidy workshop and our summerhouse now resembled a beekeeping equipment wholesaler, with bits and bobs all over the place. Tools, frames, bits of beehive, smokers, bee-suits, wax sheets, centrifuge and jars all over the place. If you have ever read The Darling Buds of May – just think of Pop Larkin’s yard. But, would I want it any other way? No. If I had to describe beekeeping to anyone – I would quote Pop Larkin – “perfick”.
The area we lived in was rapidly expanding - Sevington used to be a little village but has now been consumed by the ever-expanding Ashford and when the local council granted permission to build an additional 1,700 houses close by as well as one of the largest 24/7 distribution warehouses in Europe. we decided it was time to move away from the busy South East and start again in a more peaceful location. We spent a long time searching until we found just what we had been looking for. A lovely smallholding between Dumfries and Bankend with views to die for in every direction. We moved in a few days before Christmas in 2017 and I spent the winter preparing an area ready for the bees. I gave away my "English" bees to several of my beekeeper friends down South and prepared to start all over again in Scotland. I collected my new (Scottish) bees a couple of months ago and they have settled down nicely. I have also set up a couple of "bait hives" just in case a passing swarm likes the look of the area (good schools, easy transport links, nice neighbours - that sort of thing!). I have also just collected 3 new colonies of bees and have settled them into their new hives along side the existing ones. These new hives will not be productive until next season. My main aim is to ensure they have enough food for themselves for the winter months. Honey production is very weather dependent, so I would not expect to have a huge quantity of honey for sale this year. Please check the website as I will post progress reports on a regular basis. You can also phone me to check if we have stock.