Many of you who know me personally will know that my partner has a certain love (cough) addiction (cough) for honey! Of course, honey has many properties and even myself have to hail to the idea that it's helped me with ailments from the common cold to the seasonal hayfever.
Our honey addiction came to a peak sometime mid last year when my partner discovered The Local Honeyman, based near his work area, we opted to try a selection of the rarer RAW honey; such as Borage! Since then, it started off with small jars to a 2kg jar and even I have to admit, it disappeared quickly. He's always had an avid interest in Beekeeping and as we know Bees are featured more often than not now in the news, with a decline in our buzzing friends.
If interested in learning more, check out this Ted Talk: http://www.tedxwarwick.com/talks/talk.php?year=2014&id=12
Anyway, whilst hunting for an early Christmas Present for my partner, I found an incredible feature on TimeOut for Urban Bees Air BnB tour! I knew it was perfect.
Urban Bees Honey Tour is based in central London, Kings Cross to be exact and the meeting place is right in the middle of Granary Square. So there we were, bundled up (it was a very grey, cold and drizzly day!) so please wrap up warm. You will be standing for periods of time and it can be quite chilly.
We met Alison Benjamin our tour guide, Alison is so wonderfully knowledgeable on bees and beekeeping, there isn't much she can't answer! A writer for guardian and co-author of Keeping Bees, Making Honey, A world without Bees and Bees in the City; an urban beekeepers' handbook.
Now you have to admit that is one serious repertoire right there.
We're standing in Kings Cross, bundled up for a winter walk and we're following Alison as she talks us through Winter plants that can help keep Honeybees alive throughout Winter. She then begins to lead us into a National Wildlife Conservation, that's right, in the middle of Kings Cross! It's incredible to see this little wonderland of lakes, nature and wildlife thriving, as I look overhead I can see skyscrapers, cranes and new developments looming by. We make our way into a small part of the reserve and find a locked off section of hives! Of course during December, Honeybees stay within the hives so we sadly didn't get to see any actual bees but we did get to take a close look and even discuss parts of an empty hive and how one might go about curating and keeping bees.
Okay, it doesn't look like much but wooden slates but we can tell you, a helluva lot of buzzing activity goes on in there to help curate some of the delicious honey we take for granted! Raw honey has so many benefits, if we can help save these busy insects with awareness and knowledge hopefully we can curate some future beekeepers and with that - future honey!
You get the opportunity to try on Bee suits (no matter the weather), to talk through the Beekeepers job. Yes, there are Bee diseases, even our garden planting can affect bees! We also learnt about different types of bees; easily mistaken for your fluffy little friend who is in fact NOT a Honeybee but a "Bumblebee". Take note, they are widely different.
After the tour of the hives, which included discussions and breakdown of types of bees, different ways to keep bees and how to help them in the Winter and some of the little changes we can do to protect them, we make our way to the Kings Cross Skip Garden. The Skip Garden is an incredible project that is completely movable, plus they serve delicious food.
Within the skip garden, we head to a little indoor spot, with benches. Here we get to talk about the consistency, texture and colour of honey. Plus obviously, the good part, tasting it and attempting to guess which areas of London they come from. I was wrong. For practically everything! I did however learn that my favourite types of honey are darker, thicker and less sweet than I would expect. For me? The favourites are honeys that come from trees, most notably available in places like Hampstead Heath & Canary Wharf.
It's a wonderful tour that is 1 part knowledge and 1 part enjoyment, we noticed families do the tour often and there was an eclectic mix of couples, tourists and even one girl who was allergic to honey. The want to learn the importance of these small creatures spreads far and wide!
For any of those interested in the Environment, Conservation of Urban Nature this is a great starting point. Plus you get to spend a good amount of time eating honey!!