Early spring brings bumper honey harvest to Wiltshire beekeeper

This Is Wiltshire: Fred Swift, the Wiltshire Beekeeper, with jars of honey Fred Swift, the Wiltshire Beekeeper, with jars of honey

Beekeeper Fred Swift has enjoyed a bumper production of honey this year, thanks to the early spring and summer in Wiltshire, with berry bushes and flowers developing months ahead of schedule.

Mr Swift, a beekeeper for 20 years, said: “The amount of honey I am getting from my bees this year is phenomenal. I haven’t taken this much in years.”

Mr Swift, who trades as the Wiltshire Beekeeper, sells honey online and at outlets including Edwin Giddings delicatessen in Devizes.

Batches of honey produced from spring to late summer all taste and look different, depending on where the bees have been collecting nectar.

Honey can be runny, hard or soft set. It changes from soft and runny to granulated and set as part of a natural process. Different nectars have varying sugar concentrations, with different setting times.

Nectar from borage can take up to two years to set, whereas that from rape plants can set in two weeks.

Mr Swift, of Devizes, advises against putting honey in the fridge, as it will kill its health properties. The same goes for cooking, with it being best added at the end.

Mr Swift’s products include bee pollen, exotic honeyed fruits and hand cream.

When he retired, he bought a beehive to store his gardening tools and birdseed, but after being shown a hive full of bees he was smitten.

He started off with one hive but now has lots all over Wiltshire. He gives talks on beekeeping and runs courses at Whitehall Garden Centre, Lacock.

For more information, see www.thewiltshirebeekeeper.com

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