Frequently Asked Questions
What size jar do you sell honey in?
We sell our honey in 340g (12oz) Hexagonal Jars with gold coloured lids.
What type of honey do you sell?
All of the honey we sell is “runny” honey, collected from our own hives. The honey has been made by honeybees from nectar collected from a wide variety of flowers growing in and around NE Hampshire. It’s not possible to identify any one particular plant or crop type as there’s such a variety. The plants producing the most nectar varies each year, largely depending on the weather conditions and timing of the seasons. The colour of the honey changes with each extraction, depending on the plants the nectar has come from.
Where do you sell your honey?
As a small scale beekeeper we sell our honey in jars “from the front door”, to customers in the NE Hampshire area (Fleet, Church Crookham, Dogmersfield, Crondall, Aldershot, Farnborough and surrounding areas). Sorry, we don’t do online orders or sell in bulk buckets.
When do you sell your honey?
Typically September – December each year, once the the bees have had time to collect nectar from the summer flowers and process it into honey. If spring is kind to the bees occasionally we have a supply in May from spring flowers. Always worth emailing to see if we have any honey available.
Where are the hives that the honey comes from?
The hives are based in Dogmersfield and Church Crookham (NE Hampshire, UK)
How long does the honey keep?
There is no official sell by date for honey – it can keep for quite a long time in a well sealed glass container in a cool cupboard (keeping it in the fridge is not recommended). For practical purposes a 2 year sell by date is recommended, and that is what we state on our jars (from the date of bottling). It’s important to keep honey in a sealed jar – keep the lid on! Honey is extremely hygroscopic – that is, it absorbs water from the surrounding air, and if it absorbs too much it could start to ferment.
Why has my honey gone hard?
All honey goes hard eventually (if they are genuine honeys!) – via a process of Crystallization (sometimes also called Granulation). Different honeys will crystallize at different rates. It is believed that this is dependent upon the ratio of the different sugars found in honey, as well as the temperature at which the honey is stored at. The important point to note is that it hasn’t “gone bad”, honey is essentially a highly concentrated sugar solution and over time some of the sugar comes out of solution and becomes crystals. It’s easy to reverse the process and return a jar back to runny honey.
Place the jar in a warm (not hot) water bath at about 40ºC for about 15 minutes or as soon as the granules have dissolved and all of the honey has turned clear and runny. Don’t boil the water or over-heat the glass as it may crack.
What does the L date mean on the jar label?
The L stands for Lot Number. It indicates the batch of honey – we use the date the honey was extracted from the super frames.
I've seen some honey for sale labelled Vegan Honey?
Honey isn't considered suitable for consumption by vegans as it's a product that comes from an animal. Check out our Beekeeping Rumours page. If something is labelled Honey, then it MUST be produced by honeybees. Anything else is being miss-sold and should be reported to trading standards as it's actually illegal to pass off another product as honey under the 2003 Honey Regulations: “honey” means the natural sweet substance produced by Apis mellifera bees from the nectar of plants or from secretions of living parts of plants or excretions of plant-sucking insects on the living parts of plants which the bees collect, transform by combining with specific substances of their own, deposit, dehydrate, store and leave in honeycombs to ripen and mature;"
To avoid legal challenge, vegan "honey" products are often labelled using a similar sounding made up name such as Honay etc.
Is your honey raw?
There is no legal definition of what "raw" means, but most people probably mean "not treated". However that can also be a little tricky to define - does "not treated" also mean not warmed (so that it can run through a filter) or not filtered? The process of extraction used at Read Apiaries, as hobby beekeeper, is detailed on this website, involving spinning, possibly warming (if it needs it) and gravity filtering through a course and finer filter, and finally bottling; but we don't label our honey as raw - as it's not clear what that really means.
Why does it say on the label “UNSUITABLE FOR INFANTS UNDER 12MTHS” ?
Very occasionally honey contains bacteria that can produce toxins in a baby’s intestines, leading to infant botulism*, which is a very serious illness. It’s best not to give a child honey until they’re 1 year old.
NHS Pregnancy and Baby Guide
*infant botulism – when a baby swallows a resistant form of the bacteria, called a spore, in contaminated soil or food, such as honey. These spores are harmless to older children and adults because the body develops defences against them from about one year of age. NHS Page
Do you sell bees wax ?
Some companies offer a wax exchange system – where the beekeeper gets a discount off the cost of new “wax foundation” (used in the hive or in “rolled candle” making), in exchange for old wax. They then take the old wax, clean it, and use if to make new foundation.
What other products do honey bees produce?
There are a number of products made by honeybees that humans take for their own use:
Honey, of course; made from Nectar collected from flowers. Used as feed for the adult bees. Stored as a winter larder.
Beeswax, made from 8 glands on the honey bee’s abdominal segments. Workers chew these pieces of wax until they become soft and moldable, and then add the chewed wax to the honeycomb construction
Pollen, collected from flowers. It’s used as a source of a protein, and is turned into bee bread by the worker bees.
Propolis, made by the bees from a mix of saliva, beeswax and tree resin. A mildly antiseptic sticky “glue”, bees use it to seal holes in the hive or cover up things they don’t want contaminating the hive that they can’t remove.
Royal Jelly, made from glands in the heads of nurse worker bees and fed to larvae.
Does it take time and effort to keep honey bees?
Yes. How much time and effort depends partly on how many hives a beekeepers has, and how far they have to travel to inspect them. Like looking after any animal responsibly, it takes skill, knowledge and care. It’s not hard though, and is endlessly fascinating. If you want to know more, and live in NE Hampshire, FBKA run a beekeeping course for beginners. (if you don’t live in NE hampshire, but elsewhere in the UK – search the BBKA for your nearest Beekeeping Association and ask them if they run courses).
In the spring and early summer months a hive needs to be inspected once week. Later in the summer and autumn every 2-3 weeks is usually OK. Over winter occasional checks to make sure they are still OK. Late summer is the time for honey extraction, varroa treatment and winter is for preparing equipment for the next season.
It isn’t a case of keeping bees in a hive, ignoring them, and then collecting some honey once a year – that way lies disaster!
Do you do presentations about beekeeping?
Yes (in the NE Hampshire area). A number of FBKA members are happy to do presentations about honeybees and beekeeping on a voluntary basis. As I also have a full time job I tend to do evening activities – typically to Scout and Guide groups; other members are happy to go into schools and other day activities. Get in touch and we discuss options and availability.