The Wild Hives Mission

8th June 2013

bee on honeycomb

There are no seasons on the supermarket shelves.

Although they might try to suggest otherwise by promoting seasonal produce, as far as honey is concerned it's always on the same shelf no matter what the weather's like outside or what the calendar month is.

Nonetheless, it's not only strawberries, courgettes and watermelons that go in and out seasons. Honey does too. It might be hard to believe it as whenever you want honey you can always find it in your local supermarket.

No wonder, as it's not that hard to make season-proof and always available honey: you just need to get all the honey you can put your hands on from wherever in the world, blend them together (you can even tailor the taste to what a customer is believed to want), and you can even heat it all up in temperatures so high that it will stay eternally runny (honey heated twice in temperatures higher than +30 ºC looses its properties (e.g. antibacterial), but at the same time never crystalizes again).

All is well if that's the taste and consistency we prefer, however what we get is just another type of sweetener without any of the actual benefits of honey.

However when I talk about seasons and honey, I talk about natural raw honey. And although most of us are aware of the benefits of raw honey, you might wonder why is all this talk about seasons: of what importance are they to us as sellers of natural honey and to you as enjoyer of this sweet goodness?

At the end of the day doesn't honey never expire?

It is true that honey, if stored correctly (which is not that hard – a dark cool place (in most cases also known as your kitchen cupboard) would be just fine) can last for quite a few years without loosing its qualities.

So why don't supermarkets sell just natural honey?

There are probably a number of reasons. But one them must be that following seasons and the ways of nature (just as fruit and veg supplies illustrate) is not easy (imagine if only we could blend all those autumn squashes, winter carrots, spring asparagus and summer tomatoes together to get a universal all year round vegetable).

You are most likely aware of the situation with the bees and the bee crisis (are you?). There are basically as many bees around and therefore as much natural honey as there is our awareness of beekeeping, its practices and issues, and awareness of our environment.

As you have probably noticed from the absence of the little buzzing creatures in winter, bees stay inside in cold seasons. Therefore, if you look at the local honey supplies in March, the local beekeepers might be running out of the last summer's honey, and if we are having a delayed spring and summer as happened this year, the honey season might not start until weil into the calendar summer, also probably meaning the low supplies of honey for the year after. And that's exactly why we are still waiting on our local Twickenham bees to produce the new fresh harvest of this year.

However in the countries where summer comes earlier and is a bit more stable, as (surprisingly) is the case in Lithuania this year, beekeepers already inform us about their new harvest of polyfloral meadow honey.

And we just can't wait for these first flavours of 2013 to reach us and for you to try them!

Of course let's not forget of those lucky places where it's warm all year round and where bees have no rest.

So it looks that if one would want all year natural honey supply, sometimes it might be needed to rely on honeys from elsewhere. And that is why on our shelves you might find different honeys from different places at different times, depending on what season is where, how the year been for bees in different places, and what are the best honeys we can get.

The easy route of blending any available honeys from anywhere to manufacture the taste that someone believes might be liked is just not out way!

And talking about tastes: it's just like those squashes, tomatoes and asparaguses again. Every season has its own taste, and every region too, and in the honeybee world that's the case too.

In Lithuania early summer means meadow flowers, which means light mild tasting sweet honey that crystalizes quickly. Mid summer our beekeepers collect some bee pollen. Late summer is the season of forest and of crops such as buckwheat, bringing deeper darker colours and tastes, and different properties too (it is said that the darker the honey the higher its antioxidant level).

It might be a slightly different story with our urban bees who have a luxury of a wide choice of flowers in out gardens all summer long, and their honey (as you'll be able to taste for yourselves soon) has an absolutely different (London!) taste.

So the taste of the honey reflects not only changing seasons, but also all that these seasons have to offer in different places.

Honey, this one all natural product, gives you an opportunity to stay close to nature, with all its peculiarities, cycles and changes, and takes you on a journey of flavours across the world.

It is convenient to find the familiar honey jar on a supermarket shelf in any season, any time, but how can one staple taste of manufacturer's blended and heated honeys compare to the array of sensations that nature has to offer.

At Wild Hives we're dedicated to bringing to you at least a snippet of this vast nature's offer. We get our honeys directly from beekeepers, without a middleman, simply because we like knowing where our honey comes from and to hear all the stories about it, the bees that brought it and seasons that produced it straight from our beekeepers mouths.

So here we find ourselves now, early June, with the sun becoming braver, and the bees buzzing all around us, and us eagerly spooning out the remains of last summer from our honey jars and impatiently waiting for this beauty of colours in flowers around us slowly materialize into a fresh new honey, pure and raw goodness and wellbeing for the year ahead.

Watch this space to follow the perfection of the seasons evolve in our jars of raw honeys!