Hmmm, I’m not impressed with my honey harvest this year from Polesden Lacey's garden. Just half a jar…and some bee wax thrown in for good measure. Sadly, I’ve only got one colony left this year, as I lost my other two in the appalling wet summer last season.
I’ve named all my hives after famous queens – because each colony is ruled by a single queen. Ironically, the hive that has survived is named Queen Victoria, who of course had an indomitable spirit that lived for years. Funnily enough, I collected a swarm earlier this summer, housed it in the hive named Lady Jane Grey, and it only survived nine and half days. And the colony in the hive named ‘Elizabeth 1’ had an unmated queen, so I had to get rid of her, and combine it with ‘Anne Boleyn’ to get the queen laying.
I’m on holiday in Brittany at the moment, and I love their passion for honey. In the local Super U supermarket, I came across this amazing array of different types of honey produced from different flowers. Obviously, it would have been rude not to try them all. Flavours range from the heavily floral and scented Lime honey (tilleul), to the sweetly perfumed lavender (lavande) or the heavy, dark-brown and rich chestnut honey (chataignier). Others included heather (bruyere), acacia, sarrasin (buckwheat), thyme, lemon, wildflowers and orange.
In Brittany they make a local mead drink from honey called Chouchenn, which is one of their local specialities. The word honeymoon is actually derived from pagan times when the custom was to celebrate marital nuptials by drinking lots of mead and coinciding it with the timings of the full moon. In some areas of Brittany, these wild revelries and parties still continue as they celebrate the honey harvest and the moon calendar.
Okay, I’ve just checked the calendar, and I’ve just missed the full moon. Damn it, fate conspires against me again! Guess I'll have to come out to Brittany earlier next year!