If there’s one thing New Forest beekeeper Simon Noble knows, it’s the importance of buying local honey.
A third generation beekeeper, Simon takes care of 70 beehives located throughout the national park and on his farm in Hythe, where he produces raw wildflower honey and New Forest heather honey.
The superior taste and amazing variation in flavor of the honey he collects is a good reason to buy local, Simon says, while other incentives include helping to increase the local bee population by supporting those who feed them.
“I always make sure I leave enough honey in the hive to see the colony overwinter,” Simon said. “And when I get the honey, I use a one-way plank to very gently pull the bees out of the frames.”
Simon’s father Deryk was a beekeeper for many years, selling honey from a farm store, but he became allergic to bee stings in the 1980s and his doctor then advised him to give up the job.
Simon’s interest in beekeeping was sparked by the discovery of a storm damaged beech tree that contained a colony of wild bees.
“I contacted the New Forest Beekeepers’ Association, who sent an experienced beekeeper called Jan Roper to save the colony,” Simon explained. “Watching her was fascinating, and I continued to sign up for a class.
“I took over the three beehives my father left in an isolated apiary in the woods – 25 years on the bees still thrived there.
“They were transferred to new hives and I went from three colonies to 70. It was quite an adventure and I never thought I could continue to live on a fortuitous moment.
Early in his career before creating The Noble Bee, Simon spent some time in New Zealand, working with a beekeeper responsible for 3,500 beehives.
“With that, I realized that I didn’t want to keep bees on this scale,” he continued. “Having so much takes away the romance.
“The goal is to get around the beehives as quickly as possible, collecting as much honey as possible; it looks more like the work of bees than the traditional profession of beekeeping.
Capitalizing on a growing interest in bees, Simon started Beekeeping Experience Days, which he runs once or twice a week at Furzedown Farm in the spring and summer.
Besides getting their hands on an active beehive, visitors can enjoy a honey tasting, make their own beeswax candle, a beekeeping talk, a lunch by the pond, tips to help bees and other pollinating insects and a jar of delicious Simon’s honey to take home.
With apiaries scattered throughout the forest, Simon offers a range of honeys that all have their own flavor, color and texture.
By special arrangement with Forestry England, he also takes his hives to the moors in August for the massive heather bloom, when the bees produce New Forest heather honey.
“Even in the same apiary, no two batches of polyfloral honey are the same because the flavors reflect the local flora that was growing at the time,” said Simon. “You won’t get that if you buy generic and processed honey from the supermarket.”
From the moment it is harvested, there is minimal interference with Simon’s honey, and unlike commercial honey which is heated, ultra-filtered and often pasteurized to create a cleaner, smoother texture and extend the life of the honey. conservation, hers goes into the pot in almost the same way. condition at the exit of the hive, but with coarse filtering to remove litter.
Noble Bee honey is stocked in a variety of shops and cafes, including the National Motor Mesuem Souvenir Shop, Shappen Stores in Burley, and Braxton Gardens Tea Room in Lymington. Her beeswax candles can be purchased at Fairweather’s Garden Center in Beaulieu and Shallowmead Nurseries.
Raw honey is a superfood that has antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties, while untreated local honey contains a blend of local pollen, which is believed to boost the immune system and reduce symptoms of pollen allergy.
Bees are the most important pollinators in the world, fertilizing a third of the food we eat and 80% of flowering plants, but since 2006 populations have steadily declined due to colony collapse syndrome, habitat reduction, lack of economic sustainability and climate change.
The future of the honey bee is crucial because its existence greatly impacts and influences human food production.
To purchase Simon’s honey, candles or beeswax wraps, or to book an experience day, visit www.thenoblebee.com