Porch Honey – ethical bee management

I was gifted some products to try from Porch Honey, and want to tell you a bit about it – the gifts were a delight, and Porch Honey themselves are really interesting. Porch Honey are an ethical beekeeping company, a family bees-ness that manages bees on some wildlife-rich sites in Essex. I was lucky enough to receive two types of honey, plus something from their cosmetic range (I let Natasha try that out!).

porch honey 03

I talked to Kim from Porch Honey to get the inside scoop!

Me: How did you get into beekeeping?

Kim: “I learned as a young man in the United States being taught by my parents. I did not practice beekeeping for a considerable number of years until my son and I decided to do a science project via his school regarding urban bees and society. At the time we had little land and so we chose to place our hive on our porch. Yes we both know (We were lucky and grew a queen who was very docile) …. however our neighbours and friends loved it and would often gather to watch Sam & I inspect the hive on a Sunday afternoon.”

Me: Why ethical beekeeping?

Kim: “Sam and I made a choice when we started beekeeping that we would not clip a queens wings, mark a queen potentially rendering her flightless, burn should they catch a cold. I wanted to impart an approach for Sam that would help him in later life to achieve his goals on his terms.”

Me: Do you have previous life experience of nature and parks?

Kim: “I was assigned to a duty station in the American state of Alaska where I worked alongside of some national parks park rangers that would shape remainder of my adult life.”

Me: What are the benefits to the park and wildlife?

Kim: “The park users see a diversity of flowers, which attract insects (Bumble Bees, Solitary, Honey Bees, a variety of butterfly, mimics etc..) that pollinate directly and indirectly, which also attracts birds and predatory insects (wasp, dragon fly to name a few). We are in our 7th year at both Langdon Hills and Watt Tyler parks where we employee the same ethical and holistic methods ensuring that we maintain a rich environment while caring for a thriving bee farm with a single objective in mind and that is balance so that we achieve our objectives while allowing the full range of diversity to occur.”

“When the eco system is healthy, with hope the park user returns to their everyday life with a greater appreciation of the natural world that is all too often obfuscated away from themselves via modern life we all lead now.”

Me: What’s the best thing about working on biodiversity-rich sites like the SSSIs?

Kim: “The best part of working in any of the biodiversity rich sites is having lunch … watching a buff tail or listening to a meadow lark while recharging. There are a good number of people you meet all learning, drawing knowledge and income from this land completely and totally enthralled by it’s magic. A record of what the countryside should and could be we all have a part to play as contributors to the ranger staffs.”

Marbled White at Langdon Hills
Rich biodiversity: a marbled white at Langdon Hills Country Park

Testing the products

Now for a bit about the products! Natasha and I tried the SSSI Boutique Meadow honey and the  Cinnamon flavoured Infused honey.

The Boutique honey has a warm flavour, and I’ve used it for glazing roast parsnips and in some homemade bircher muesli. My brain lit up as well as my tongue when I tried this honey, thinking about the fantastic habitat and the range of pollen sources that went to create it. The hive that made this honey is located at Wat Tyler Country Park, in the South Essex marshland on the northern shore of the Thames estuary. I live in Basildon so I’ve visited Wat Tyler quite a few times; habitats include woodland, ponds and saltmarshes (this latter lends the honey a subtle savoury flavour). If you ever visit, you should also check out the RSPB’s wildlife garden, I am really impressed with it.

The Cinnamon honey is different again, the spice comes through strongly but it doesn’t overpower the flavour of the honey. This honey has been great for adding flavour to hot drinks. This came from a hive at Langdon Hills country park – another Basildon site rich in wildlife. I used to be a Ranger there, so trying this was a real experience! This country park sits on a hilly ridge that extends from Dunton to Vange, with views over the Thames Estuary and across to London. Essex isn’t known for its hills, but you can see the Langdon ridge from Wat Tyler.

Trying these honeys from places I know was like being a tastebud tourist, visiting these places by taste.

Finally, Natasha tried the hand cream: “it’s really good, it smells nice, you don’t need much and it changes my hands from dry to nice and soft” – Natasha. 🙂

Visit the Porch Honey website to find out more!

 

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