The simple honeybee: not only responsible for the pollination of many of our food crops, but for most of our cattle grazing as well. Without the honeybee and its flight of fertility, our diet would be sparse and seriously lacking in nutrition. With the demise of honeybees and humans reduced to bread and water, the irony is that honey is so filled with nutrients it alone could sustain human life. The role of the honeybee in the food chain is grossly under-estimated and under appreciated in society and it’s time we acknowledged our reliance upon the humble bee.
Richard and Marjolijn are urban beekeepers and every bit as genuine as the raw, local honey they harvest. What started as a mild interest in beekeeping has blossomed into a major passion; the result is their beautifully pure Gardener’s Glory raw honey. Get to know this charming couple and listen as they wax eloquent about the importance of bees in nature, the benefits of honey and the downright deliciousness of their product. As Richard says: “Our honey has already taken us on so many adventures and brought so many kindred spirits our way…”
Urban honey is said to be the most flavoursome as a result of the floral diversity found within suburban gardens. This, combined with the health of well tended garden plants leads to an abundance of pollen and nectar. Bearing this diversity in mind, it’s not surprising that honey harvested from Richard’s father’s garden in Claremont can taste completely different to honey harvested from his own Newlands hive, not four kilometres away as the ‘bee’ flies. Gardener’s Glory currently harvest hives in Newlands, Claremont and Somerset West. Each honey has its own distinctive colour and taste, still carrying the pollen of its origins within. Nothing is added nor is it processed in any way, Gardener’s Glory honey is as pure as it was in the comb.
It’s impossible to compare local, raw honey to most honeys found on supermarket shelves. Commercial honey will invariably have been heat treated which removes all traces of pollen (the ‘dna’ of honey by which origin can be traced). In some cases sugars, flavourants and even animal antibiotics have been added. It’s about as far removed from its original source and form as possible. Labels need to be thoroughly scrutinised before purchase and what you’re looking for is pure, raw honey that’s as local as possible. There is no substitute.
If you still don’t trust the label and want to ensure your raw honey is the real deal, dip the cotton wick of a candle into the honey and shake off the excess. Should you still be able to light the wick (with no crackling sound), it’s pure honey and hasn’t been watered down. Honey should be kept at room temperature rather than in the fridge where it tends to crystallise more quickly. Only raw honey will crystallise and can be easily returned to liquid form by placing the container in a bowl of warm water – don’t use direct heat as this could destroy the pollen. Storing honey in a dark cupboard is advised, but it’s such a waste of the warm, golden glow it emits in the light.
Besides the nourishment and flavour it provides, raw honey is also of huge medicinal value. It’s a natural antibacterial and can be used for everything from severe burns to the simply irritating stye. It’s a good source of antioxidants, is a natural anti-inflammatory and aids in digestion. A spoonful of honey ‘in the hour before bed’ is said to increase the metabolism as you sleep by assisting the liver – all the while soothing you with its calming properties. Unlike its nemesis sugar, honey will chill you out.
Honey is also a natural immune booster and local honey in particular has been found to be highly effective in the treatment of seasonal allergies. It makes sense: allergies arise from an over exposure to local pollens; the bees in your area are exposed to the same pollens and incorporate them into their honey. By eating their honey you are ingesting small, measured amounts of the pollen and thereby building up a natural immunity. It’s nature’s way.
If you’re still not convinced, then stop by the lovely Starlings Café food market on a Wednesday afternoon, have a chat with Richard and Marjolijn and try Gardener’s Glory honey for yourself. From the maple syrupy sweetness of Somerset West florals to the deep and gamey notes of Newlands shrubbery, you’ll be amazed at the diversity of flavours as the relevance of locality hits your palate.
Gardener’s Glory Raw Honey
Richard/ Marjolijn: 076 194 5733 or find them at Starlings Cafe Food Market every Wednesday afternoon from 4 – 6pm.