Urban Honey

There is a man who keeps hives in and around London. It's nothing new, and he isn't the only one doing it. However, he's been keeping bees for ten years, and the honey they produce is lovely. The comb pictured above was produced less than a kilometre from where I live. Right smack in East London.

The London Honey Company has a shop at the Maltby Street Market, an up-and-coming offshoot of Borough Market. It's a bit of a trek (and an adventure, as the market isn't a properly defined agglomeration of stands) for honey, but it is well worth the trip.

Wherever you may live, local beekeepers are an integral part of the food chain, since their bees help to perpetuate local crops. Once you start tasting small batch honeys, you may never go back to the plastic bear filled with anonymous honey ever again (which, in some cases, isn't always real honey.)

Honey is very much a live product, like raw milk cheeses: its flavour depends on the seasons, and on what the bees ingest. The difference between buckwheat and clover is striking, not only taste-wise but visually also. Buckwheat honey is almost as black as tar, its flavour robust, almost bitter. In areas where chestnut trees thrive, the honey is also dark and bitter, which lends itself well to savoury foods such as game meats.The paler the honey, the more mild the flavour, and the range can be incredible: pine honey tastes very much like a Christmas tree; lavender or thyme honeys have a strong herbal accent, yet are floral and well suited to fruits and desserts.

Bees, whether wild or domesticated, are severely endangered by modern agriculture. By buying local honey, you not only help farmers and their crops, you are also encouraging practices that preserve the bees' habitats.Urban centres are increasingly believed to be havens for bees because of the diversity of flowering plants to be found there, whereas the agro-industry has turned the countryside into a virtual dessert.

A delectable, small-scale honey is a treat in its own right. To be enjoyed in the simplest way.

Bon app'!


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