Laddingford and District Beekeepers Association is a thriving local club, including members from Crowborough, providing training and support for local beekeepers from our training apiary in Yalding. We also aim to promote interest in beekeeping and wild bee populations, which are under serious threat.
After a slow, cold start to the season, our Kentish bees are now busy producing honey. A particular challenge this year has been preventing the bees from swarming, a natural tendency in the spring, when bee numbers rise and cramped bees can decide to generate new queens who then fly off with a good proportion of the bees. You may have seen in the local and national press, that there have been more swarms than usual this year. Apart from causing consternation by congregating in dense balls, everywhere from gardens to high streets, swarming bees are diverting their resources from doing what we want them to do – produce delicious honey.
At our club apiary we gave the queens more space in their hives to lay eggs to deter them from swarming. We can’t prevent swarming completely but we can reduce the odds. We’ve now been rewarded with our first harvest this year of 450lbs of delicious honey.
Have you ever tried local honey? It’s totally different from the supermarket product. While cheaper honeys are often adulterated or from bees fed supplementary sugar, even higher quality brands are blended to provide a consistent product. In contrast, local honey is produced from the nectar bees forage from whatever is in flower in your neighbourhood. It will have a unique character, varying between apiaries and from batch to batch. Some of our members are now eagerly awaiting the sweet chestnut honey, which is particularly rich, dark and distinctive. We’ve recently been at the Kent County Show, alongside other Kent bee clubs, encouraging visitors to try our local honeys. We’re always gratified when those who claim they ‘don’t really like honey’, try our samples and immediately join the queue to buy a jar.
If you buy local honey, you’re also supporting local beekeeping and the work beekeepers do to maintain the honey bee population. Kentish farmers also welcome our hives among their crops where the bees pollinate crops while collecting nectar.
So please do seek out your local beekeeper and try their honey. You can often buy direct or find their honey in farm shops or farmers markets. If you can’t find a beekeeper, contact firstname.lastname@example.org and we can put you in touch with one of our members near you. Treat yourself to an authentic taste of the countryside and show your support for bees and beekeeping.
– Caroline Field, Laddingford & District Beekeepers Association