My whole adventure with bees started 10yrs ago back in 2009. I had a small allotment next to a stream here in Andalusia, southern Spain where i would grow my own organic vegetables.
One day i was stung by a small brown bee. I actually thought it was a wasp at first until I tracked them down to a small broken cardboard box tucked away in the thick brush on the bank of the stream. After some thought (and not wanting to keep getting stung) I decided to move them into a hive and away from my allotment.
Not knowing where to start I looked to the internet and made myself a suit and a hive and tackled the job of getting them in the new hive. That was quite an ‘in at the deep end’ experience but needless to say it was a success.
6 months later in spring the bees produced a new queen divided their numbers in half, 50% of the bees stayed with the old queen and the rest moved into a spare hive with the new queen. So one hive became two, then two became four and so on over a few years. I found myself with 4 hives and little experience but I absolutely loved the experience and was fascinated by these amazing little creatures.
It was time to move home, so I found a lovely very secluded country home up in the mountains of San Pablo surrounded by orange and avocado trees it was the ideal place to keep my bees.
Some months had passed and I kept noticing an elderly gentleman peaking over the fence from time to time looking at my bee hives. I went outside to greet him and we had an amazing conversation all about bees. His name was Antonio, he was 78 years old and he explained to me that bee keeping has been in his family for many generations. He, his brother and two sisters carried on the age old tradition through-out their lives, Antonio and his brother managed the hives, his two sisters would sell the honey in the surrounding mountain villages and towns.
His sisters had past away some years ago and his brother past away one year prior to our conversation…Antonio was the only one left.
He explained that he still has nearly lots of bee hives up in the mountains of the Sierra de Ronda and that it is too much to managed by himself. He asked me if I could help him with his hives, he in turn would teach me everything he knows about bees and beekeeping and could also pay me in honey, and it was the purest most delicious honey I´ve ever tasted. I readily jumped at the opportunity with ecstatic excitement. This was a dream come true.
Over the years he truly became my mentor, a grandfather I never had, and I secretly called him the Bee Guru and so thus, I the intern was The Bee Guru’s apprentice.
As promised, over the years Antonio taught me the old methods of beekeeping and producing honey. I worked the hives with Antonio through-out each year and I would also sell his amazing honey.
He would tell me how he refused to sell his honey to the local cheap shop brands who regularly would want to purchase his honey every year. He didn’t like the idea of his very high quality pure honey being mixed with inferior honey, heated and adulterated. He was very proud of his honey and the high quality and local popularity it had.
Over the last few years Antonio has become too old to actively manage the hives like he used to and so, the son of a distant relative has stepped in to help. Between us, and under the watchful eye of Antonio, we work the hives and manage the bees with his guidance.
I have always been a honey lover but have never been able to trust the many shop brands 100%, after all, we are so far detached from the main source how can we really tell what is pure honey. So i wanted to make this pure mountain honey more available to the wider public and make people aware of this amazing natural product.
I started a group on social media called The Bee Guru’s Apprentice where I could show people our beekeeping and how the honey was produced. This became very popular locally for many years which led me and a friend of mine to form a company called Honey and Thrive.
Over the last few years Antonio has become too old to actively manage the hives like he used to and so, the son of a distant relative has stepped in to help. Between us, and under the watchful eye of Antonio, we work the hives and manage the bees with his guidance. I
When I started out selling honey my main goal was to supply a high quality, truly natural product that people could trust. It annoyed me that there were so many products on the shop shelves that claimed they were organic or healthy when the reality of it was quite the opposite. Very little shop bought honey is truly raw or pure honey. It can be pastuerised , this kills all the goodness in the raw honey and also removes the pollen within the raw honey making the honey untraceable and it can be mixed with other products like sugar cane, corn syrup to name a few making it un-pure and of low quality.
There has even been reports of imported honey from China and India which are flooding the European market containing toxins, animal antibiotics and even traces of heavy metals.
Our pure Sierra honey comes from hives that are situated in the mountains, away from farming, industry and man made chemicals. This ensures it is of the purest quality. Our honey then passes through laboratory tests to check that it contains zero traces of Glyphosphates, Insecticides and pesticides used in farming crops and also checks for any unnatural sugars. It’s purity is essential for everyone who consumes honey as toxins from these chemicals have been know to accumulate in the body and are not broken down by the system. (this then can be passed on to infants via the mothers milk. (needs to be confirmed). )
We do not feed our bees sugar water or any kind of sugar syrup. This ensures it’s quality, another essential factor when it comes to honey. I have heard of many beekeepers who extract all the honey at the end of the year and put buckets of sugar water near the hives so the bees have ”food” through the winter. This is down to bad beekeeping and greed. The bees will gladly take the sweet syrup but honey from those hives will be mostly made from refined sugar. As well as not being pure honey, it’s actually bad for diabetics to consume honey made from refined sugar.
We do not feed our bees anything except their own honey back to them if needed. I was taught beekeeping by an old guy in the mountains, who still uses the same method used by past generations of his family. The honey is extracted at the start of autumn, leaving the bees autumn and early winter to replenish their stocks. Also, only the full frames of honey are taken, the frames containing honey, pollen and eggs are left. This ensures the bees are left with enough food stocks at the time of harvest.
So, how do you know if your honey is really pure?, well, there are some basic tests you can do to determine whether the honey contains sugar water, sugar cane, corn syrup or other adulterants which you can find in the …. section on our website.
How do you know if your honey has been pastuerised?
There is no way of telling. Pasturisation kills all the goodness in honey, in fact, when honey is heated above 36 degrees Celsius it kills all the goodness and antibacterial properties((goodness) can be worded better), in the honey. It’s the antibacterial properties in pure honey that gives it its amazing healing benefits. (can be worded better).
How do you know if your honey contains pollen?
Again, there is no way of telling by looking or tasting. Pollen is an essential part of honey. This is what helps in fighting against allergies such as hay fever.
In fact, large importing companies take all the pollen out of honey because they claim it makes the honey clearer and prevents crystallization, therefore making it easier to sell, However, by removing the pollen, you also remove clues needed to verify where the honey was produced and what nectar sources are dominant. This means that with no traces of pollen, honey sellers can take cheap honey and claim it’s a type that sells for a premium price.
How do you know if your pure honey contains pesticides / insecticides? In short, you don’t. This can only be ascertained by spectro analysis. Bees will fly in a 3km radius searching for food, if there is a farm using chemicals in that radius then it will more than likely be picked up by the foraging bees and transferred to the hive and ultimately their food source (the pollen and honey).
I’ve had this discussion many a time with people who say they buy cheap honey from the local market. It may be cheap, it may be raw, but does it contain sugar water?, does it contain pesticides and insecticides? How do you tell they ask. It is only the bee keeper himself (if he is a diligent keeper) will know where his bees are foraging for their main food source. In my experience as a beekeeper, many do not care.
We do care. we care about the quality of our honey, (products), we provide to you.