Raw, untreated honey, served in the comb, used to be the norm – and many believe that this is the way honey should be eaten.
Better still, honey that is guaranteed to come from bees that have never had any synthetic chemicals in their hive is once more available under the label of the Wholesome Food Association, which has been promoting locally produced, chemical-free food since 1999.
WFA Managing Director, Sky McCain says, “We want people to be able to buy locally-grown, wholesome food from people they trust to do the job well. Local, certified organic honey is virtually impossible to buy in the UK – it is almost all imported – so we are pleased that in some areas we can now offer a locally-made honey that has been produced to our chemical-free standards.”
Raw, untreated honey is mostly produced by beekeepers who use 'top bar hives' – a low-tech, and often home-made hive that enables bees to build honeycomb to their own design, rather than to the pattern dictated by the pre-formed wax 'foundation' used in conventional hives.
Philip Chandler, author of 'The Barefoot Beekeeper', is pioneering this style of beekeeping in Britain. He comments, “Honeybees have been suffering for the last 150 years from the same sort of abuses as other factory-farmed animals. They have been badly housed, overworked, over-medicated and are now dying out as a result of this abuse and widespread poisoning of the land by pesticides. We want to sound the alarm now, before it is too late, and show how bees can be kept in a more natural way, without the need for chemicals to keep them alive.”
“We need much wider support to stop them being wiped out by agricultural chemicals, as has happened recently in Germany, and a few years ago in France.”
“We are disappointed that the British Bee Keepers Association, instead of protecting the interests of the bees, has taken money from the agri-chemical corporations for endorsing pesticides similar to those that have been killing bees by the million in Europe.”
“Beekeepers who follow chemical-free practices will welcome this initiative by the Wholesome Food Association and the public will, we hope, welcome the opportunity to be able to buy honey that is as pure as bees can make it.”
The top bar hive, mostly used in Africa before being introduced to Britain and the USA, is best suited to small-scale beekeeping, and so is particularly suitable for 'back yard', home beekeepers, smallholders and those wanting to produce enough honey for their family and friends.
Free plans for building a top bar hive, together with a popular support forum and more information about The Barefoot Beekeeper, can be found at www.biobees.com.
Membership of the Wholesome Food Association is open to anyone in Europe who grows and sells food to WFA standards and sells it in their local area – now including beekeepers. Details are on their web site at www.wholesomefood.org
Wholesome Food Association www.wholesomefood.org
The Barefoot Beekeeper www.biobees.com
BBKA statement on pesticides