A hazy afternoon in London, high-rise apartment blocks in the distance, wading through a meadow of knee-deep wildflowers dressed as an astronaut. No, this isn’t a surreal dream; it’s a beekeeping workshop at Woodbury Wetlands with The Local Honeyman.
Did you know that you can try beekeeping in the UK capital? There are, in fact, a surprising number of small apiaries dotted around the city. One of which is Woodbury Wetlands near Finsbury Park, where The Local Honeyman brand of – yes, you guessed it – local honey, cultivates and collects its delicious golden liquid with workshops open to the public.
The Place: Woodbury Wetlands
This nature reserve in Stoke Newington is not only home to lots of flora and fauna, but it is also home to a couple of 200-year old reservoirs which still provide water for London today.
There is a café serving beautiful salads, cakes and honey-sweetened hot drinks. The historic Grade II-listed Coal House building had been hidden under trees and plants for decades until it was re-discovered and transformed into a working café, with the grand opening featuring a speech by wildlife legend, Sir David Attenborough.
Unsurprisingly, there is a huge focus on conservation at the wetlands. You can get involved with weekly volunteering projects. And as well as beekeeping, the centre also offers lots of activities and events, including live music sessions and dawn chorus wildlife watching.
The Experience: All about bees
What’s the difference between royal jelly and Manuka honey? And why are they in my moisturiser? And who exactly is this elusive Queen Bee I keep hearing about?
Fear not; your beekeeping hosts will be able to answer all your honey-soaked questions. The session includes lots of interesting information about bees and their environment, as well as demonstrations. Slip on your oversized overalls and netted headgear and you’ll get to see the bees up-close and personal as they buzz about their business.
Although it can be slightly terrifying to walk into a cloud of bees, you soon realise that they are calm as long as you are. They’re more interested in doing their job than stinging humans. Unless you’ve just eaten a banana, then they will sting you – you’ve been warned!
You might even get a go at extracting the honey from the slats and have the pleasure of tasting the oh-so fresh honey oozing straight from the extraction barrel. Mmmmm, honey.
The Honey: The Local Honeyman
I’m obsessed with honey. Not the type that’s mass produced and topped up with refined sugar, but proper honey. The type that tastes of honey, not just general sweetness.
So, as a self-proclaimed honey bear I can say The Local Honeyman honey is lovely. We had the chance to taste different types of the sticky stuff. The unique honey flavours and infusions, included cinnamon, ginger and black sesame seeds.
The Mission: Save the bees
It’s well-known that the UK’s wild bee population has been in decline in recent decades. Aside from making honey, we need these perky little pollinators to keep the natural world in balance. By pollinating flowers, they’ll help keep our flora blooming, fruit bountiful and species diverse.
The honey they make also has health benefits. As well as being tasty on toast, local honey is celebrated for its special powers, from soothing sore throats to preventing hay fever symptoms.
The Details: How to book
Feeling buzzed about bees? Book your beekeeping demonstration at Woodbury Wetlands hosted by The Local Honeyman: http://www.woodberrywetlands.org.uk/events/wild-weekend/timetable/. Or contact The Local Honeyman directly: https://localhoneyman.co.uk/beekeeping-experience/
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