London Honey: The End of an Era


About 10 years ago, before we launched Black Bee Honey, Paul and I ran a hive rental service. We installed and maintained hives all over London, including a pair in Woodford for Redbridge council. Since launching Black Bee Honey in 2017 these hives were looked after by us and produced our bestselling London honey variety. A lot has changed there in the recent years, so reluctantly we recently took the decision to move them to Somerset. 


The apiary was perfect for bees, located inside an octagonal, 16th century walled garden. This helped to keep the hives out of sight of the public and helped secure them from any would-be thieves. And, as the space was mainly unused, there was also ample room to drive our truck in and out and plenty of space to store our equipment. Being in a park meant that there was great forage for the bees too. As well as having plenty of wildflowers there was an ornamental orchard, with sycamore, horse chestnut and lime trees lining the perimeter. It was the quality and volume of honey produced from all these flowers that became a deciding factor in keeping the apiary for so long. Most years we spent there had bumper crops and the honey was so good it won a 3 star Great Taste award. One judge described it as “A quite amazing honey, great aroma, delicate sweetness, great floral flavour including elderflowers and sweet mint.”


Although the walled garden was inside a London park, its secluded setting and overgrown look made it a great spot for filming. As well as shooting at least one of our crowdfunding films there, we were the host to a number of TV crews, chefs, influencers, investors and journalists. Some of the most memorable include our long-time friend, food writer & cook, Melissa Hemsley, Guardian journalist Rik Smader and children’s television presenter, Maddie Moate with her TV crew who were filming a piece on bees and maths?! We also spent a couple of summers running beekeeping workshops at the apiary, trying to dodge the rain or the sweltering heat. There’s nothing like the wonder on the face of a first time beekeeper as they look inside a hive on a summer's day. Ah, the memories!


In recent years though a lot has changed at the site. Our main contact, who we’d initially rented the hives to, had moved on to pastures new. This left us with no real agreement in place and no one with any authority to replace him as our contact. The area where we’d been storing spare kit had also been broken into by vandals. Twice. The CCTV that had been installed to deter them was also vandalised leaving the area a bit like the Wild West. Fortunately the hives themselves had always managed to escape any kind of attack - aside from being knocked over by a rogue tractor a week after we first installed them. Most recently swathes of the ground inside the garden have been churned up by heavy machinery removing old council materials, leaving the once bucolic scene looking more like WWI trenches.

So it was with a heavy heart that we decided to call time on our London apiary and move the hives to pastures new. I’m delighted, if a little sad, that they’ve found a new place to call home in an exciting new location in Somerset. More on that to follow. Fellow co-founder, friend, business partner and friend Paul will be looking after them from here on in. Won’t you Paul!?. Bye bye bees, it’s been a pleasure xxx

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