Where to buy North London honey
- Credit: Julia Kirby-Smith
Many hayfever sufferers swear by eating honey produced close to where they live - believing it desensitises them to the mix of local pollen.
With the pollen count increasing, honey is in high demand - but most beekeepers have sold out of last year’s jars and are now waiting for the bees to do their thing!
June is a busy month in a beehive. The queens will be laying up to 2,000 eggs each day, while the forager bees collect nectar, water, pollen and propolis (a sticky resin secreted by trees and plants that has antibacterial properties).
The first harvest tends to be in late July or early August. Some beekeepers do try to harvest a spring honey crop in June, but few have done so this year because of the cold, dry weather in March and April.
Bulent and Soner Golbas, who keep hives in locations including Soner's back garden and a tower block off Holloway Rd, did succeed in getting a spring crop and you can buy their Islington Honey from Stroud Green Market and Yerbury Farmer's Market.
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It’s thought there are a couple of hundred beekeepers across North London. The area’s local association of beekeepers has been going since the 1930’s and currently has around 170 members. North London Beekeeping has a teaching apiary close to Kenwood House and Highgate Village, and runs courses and two hour ‘taster’ sessions, providing a short overview of beekeeping, and hive management. (For further information email firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Helen Rogers, aka Highgate Honey, started keeping bees in 2013 when she moved to the area and decided to put a hive on the roof of the family home in Makepeace Avenue. She now has another apiary on the banks of the Welsh Harp Reservoir in Brent and runs honey tasting workshops via Zoom with kits sent in the post. She’s planning more towards the end of the year. Fiind out more on her Instagram @HighgateHoney.
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Helen agrees it's been a difficult year for bees due to the cold spring, and wants to encourage people to plant more flowers for bees: “It isn’t just honey bees that are in decline - there are 270 types of bees in the UK. The best thing people can do to help them is to plant flowers," she says. Helen has published a book that catalogues the best flowers to plant to support a diversity of bees, including how to grow and look after them.
Another local bee-keeper, Ben Nye, keeps two hives at the bottom of his garden next to the railway line in Stroud Green. He got into apiculture seven years ago, and says his bees enjoy buzzing around Parkland Walk, Finsbury Park and neighbourhood gardens to collect their nectar. The result is the rich, amber runny North London Honey, which he sells to But First Coffee and my farm shop in Crouch End, Fridge of Plenty.
You can buy other local honey from your nearest farmer’s market, from farm shops like the one at Forty Hall Farm, and directly from North London Beekeepers by checking: https://www.beekeeping.org.uk/forsale
Julia Kirby-Smith is director of Urban farm shop Fridge of Plenty in Crouch End https://fridgeofplenty.com/ and a trustee of the food charity Feedback (feedbackglobal.org).