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What’s happened to the Sun?

As it seems I have done all year I’ll start this months rather short blog off with a mention of the weather. The warmth of early July seems to have given way to a rather wet and cool end of the month, it has been the earliest I have known the flow (When nectar is available to the bees) to end and having a look at the forecast I’m not too sure it is too likely to start again this season unfortunately.

We’ve had a busy month this month with some honey packing work for another honey brand earlier on followed by lots of our own jarring because we have been out and about at quite a few markets. It’s been great to see the support for local markets holding steady despite the opening up of other venues and events so I hope one of the good things to come from Covid will be peoples interest in supporting local businesses. I for one am very happy that we will be changing our label supplier from a large national producer to a local label printers in Sutton Coldfield.

As well as our ‘normal’ bee jobs we have just been up to the Peak District to check our heather site! Many of you will have enjoyed our chunk or comb honey which was produced on the moors last year. We are taking more bees this time so we have plenty more to go around! Hopefully the weather will be kind to us and allow the bees to make the most of the Heather.

Competition Alert

If you follow us on Facebook you will already have seen our latest competition but if not there’s still plenty of time to get involved.

Last year lot’s of local families and schools decorated our hives, this year we wanted to do something a bit different so we are running a label design competition, which is available for children up to 12 years old.

Simply design your label using the template linked below and send a scan or photograph to info@holthallapiary.co.uk or send it us on Facebook, be sure to include your name!

After the deadline of 28th August 2021 we will create a shortlist of our top 3 and have a competition on social media with the winner getting 3 jars of their honey, we will also do a limited edition run which people will be able to buy from our website and markets.

INTERESTED? Simply use the template in the photo or download it as a PDF at the below link and print it on A4 paper – https://www.dropbox.com/…/Label%20Competition%20August…


Thank you for reading our brief update and I hope to see you at one of our markets:

The Open Air Country Fair – 7th & 8th August 10am – 3pm
Market Bosworth Farmers Market – 22nd August 9am – 1:30pm

Remember if you have a beekeeping experience voucher we are into the final few weeks for this year and spaces are booking up fast, you can book your slot – Here

Matthew Ingram
Holt Hall Apiary

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Happy July!

Well I’m sure I start each blog by saying how fast the month has gone and this month really is no different! I have to admit cutting this one very close to the line for my writing deadline but hopefully I can tell you lots about our honey extracting this month.

Usually in early June we would be extracting our spring crop however around then there was next to nothing on the hives, we had even had to feed them to keep starvation at bay but the weather finally broke at the end of May, start of June and about a month behind the normal flow we finally started to see supers filling with honey! It turned out that although it was late the bees were ready and waiting and as soon as the conditions were there they managed to start collecting at a fantastic pace. The spring crop that usually starts in April through to the end of May has been matched in just 2 or 3 weeks this year.

So although we were delayed the crop was good. We have finished extracting now and it was an exciting time as we had a few new bits of equipment.

We remove the cappings using one of the new bits of equipment we have got for this season. The Uncapper as its aptly named has two blades which slice off the wax and expose the honey.

Once the frames are free of cappings we place them into a honey extractor which spins the frames round very quickly so that the honey flys out and drains down the tank into a waiting bucket!

From the buckets we put it in the warmer to make the honey slightly runnier to put through a straining cloth to remove all of the bits of wax that we don’t want to end up in the jars! That’s all there is to our honey, you couldn’t get a purer more natural product!

Firstly the frames come in their boxes from the hives. We use a device called a clearing board which is like a one way valve for bees so that the boxes are empty of bees when they come to be extracted.

When the pallet comes in the frames are capped with wax so our first job before we can extract the honey is to remove the wax cappings that the bees have made to store the honey.

The uncapper above is using blades to expose the honey below it. You can see the yellow honey at the bottom and the thin layer of wax being removed.


This Month’s Recip-bee

American Pancakes!
Serves 4

With the launch of the new Bee Chocolatey honey, I thought, hmm there are so many things that this would work with, so this recip-bee of the month was so hard to choose!! But my favourite meal of the day is breakfast and what meal isn’t perfect with banana and cocoa honey spread! Pancakes always remind me of the song in Matilda, I very much enjoyed playing this while I made them, but this is optional when you make these!! The toppings can be amended to whatever you want, I think this cocoa honey would work perfectly with Greek yoghurt or strawberries too! As always, send us pictures and comments on how you get on!
 Best Wishes
Emma!

Ingredients:

Method:

  1. Sift the flour, baking powder, salt and caster sugar into a large bowl. In a separate bowl or jug, lightly whisk together the milk and egg, then whisk in the melted butter.
  2. Pour the milk mixture into the flour mixture and, using a fork, beat until you have a smooth batter. Any lumps will soon disappear with a little mixing. Let the batter stand for a few minutes.
  3. Heat a non-stick frying pan over a medium heat and add a knob of butter. When it’s melted, add a ladle of batter (or two if your frying pan is big enough to cook two pancakes at the same time). It will seem very thick but this is how it should be. Wait until the top of the pancake begins to bubble, then turn it over and cook until both sides are golden brown and the pancake has risen to about 1cm/½in thick.
  4. Repeat until all the batter is used up. You can keep the pancakes warm in a low oven, but they taste best fresh out the pan.

As always thank you for reading, hopefully you’ve learnt a little something about extracting honey and if you want to learn more make sure you follow our social media pages as we often post up other little facts and photos as the month goes on!

Matthew Ingram
Holt Hall Apiary

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May – A slow start to the season

I always go back and read my previous blog when I sit down to write each month. What a change we have seen throughout May, we went from one of the driest Aprils on record to one of the wettest Mays. The weather has been cold and damp through all of May excluding the past few days.

A close up of larvae in the hive!

It seems looking back at photos of last year we are around 2 – 3 weeks behind in terms of what is flowering here in the midlands. It has caused us quite a big problem with producing queens as it has been so cold and showery for the queens to be able to go on mating flights. I am happy to say however if you have pre-ordered your queens we are now starting to work down the list and expect all pre-orders to be fulfilled within the next 2 weeks!

May would usually be a time beekeepers are making additional hives called nucs and adding honey supers to collect honey in. This month we have been faced with the real possibility of starving hives as there just hasn’t been the weather for the bees to forage. We have had to add sugar syrup to a number of hives to get them through but I’m now happy to say with the weather having turned in the last few days we are starting to see honey flowing in! Last year we had done our first harvest by now but we are expecting to be harvesting in mid June this year!

You may have noticed this month our Facebook and Instagram have become much more active, that is thanks to Mandi who joined us part way through the month to help us with our marketing efforts. She is also planning a honey of the month email telling you about one of our honeys in depth and offering our subscribers a discount on that honey too! So if you haven’t already please do subscribe to our newsletters using the form at the bottom of this post! We will also be giving you a mini update on our month that will be just for those getting our emails.


This Month’s Recip-bee

Honey and Lemon Biscuits (Makes 8 Biscuits)

This months recip-bee uses our most recent development, Lemon Infused Honey! These shortbread biscuits are super simple and can lend themselves to any honey if you prefer a plainer variety. This recipe is perfect with an Earl Grey cup of tea (my personal preference, other tea is of course acceptable!!) or you can decorate them with icing for additional sweetness and visual impact! 
Please share with us your creations!!
Emma xx

Ingredients:

  • 90g Unsalted Butter
  • 40g Golden Caster sugar
  • 85g Lemon Honey
  • 110g Plain White Flour
  • 60g Corn Flour
  • Pinch Salt

Method:

  • Mix all ingredients together either by hand or with a food processor until a soft ball of dough is formed
  • Wrap the ball of dough in cling film (or a wax wrap!) and place in the fridge to chill for 30 minutes
  • Roll the dough on a floured surface until they are about the thickness of a £1 coin
  • Cut the dough with whatever shape cutter you fancy and move them onto a lined baking tray
  • Place the biscuits into the oven preheated to 160oc for 10-12 minutes or until pail golden brown.
  • Cool on a wire rack
  • ENJOY!

As always thank you for reading our blog!

Please come along and see us at the Open Air Country Fair at Planters Garden Centre (B78 2EY) on the 5th and 6th June 10am to 3:30pm. We will have all our honey and insect houses, we might even have a demonstration hive too!

Matthew Ingram
Holt Hall Apiary

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April (No) Showers

Well April has come and gone in the blink of an eye. It’s been great to be working with the bees again after a winter spent in the shed getting things ready. It already feels much later in the season than it is, I have to keep reminding myself we are only just at the start now. We have had almost no rain this month apart from the last couple of days and it really shows when driving around farms with fields looking as dry as the middle of summer. It’s also been cold and that has kept the flowers and the expansion of the hives back, I think we are around 2 weeks behind last year so hopefully the damp warm weather will help the crops and flowers to yield well for the bees!

At the start of the month when it was too cold to be doing much with the bees I finished off our new classroom facility. I’m really excited that we now have a designated area for running our experiences and queen rearing courses. The facility is on our farm but don’t worry if you already have an experience booked it’s only 5 minutes from Planters Garden Centre and we will send you all the directions when we confirm your booking the week before you’re due to join us!

We write for a beekeeping magazine called BeeCraft and have decided to make a small feature with 10 of our articles framed on the wall! We have all of our suits hung up, a large table and even a projector for our longer courses. Not forgetting the essentials we are able to offer you hot drinks and have some of our honey for sale too!

Queen rearing has been a big focus over the past few weeks. I have been busy writing the queen rearing course that I am delivering to a small group of beekeepers in early June. It’s been really popular with only one place left. If you’re interested in joining us for what I hope will be a fun and informative day please do book soon – here.

As well as writing the queen rearing course I’ve started queen rearing for the 2021 season, I already have over 100 cells grafted (This is the start of the queen rearing process for me, you can find out more about that in our blog called – May 2020 Hot Hot Hot!) We have quite a few people on our waiting list for queens, we are expecting to have all pre-ordered queens sent out by the first week in June but that will depend on how kind the weather is to us.


This Month’s Recip-bee

BBQ Dips and Dressings!

We’re nearly into BBQ season, with the weather hopefully warming up! These 3 simple marinades will transform a bland chicken breast into fan favourites.

All three can be made ahead of time and used to marinade the chicken, the longer the better. Remember to add a little more while they’re cooking!

Just mix the indgredients together, what could be easier? You could even use them as a dipping sauce!

Sticky BBQ Dip
Adapted from finecooking.com

  • Runny Honey 100g
  • Soy Sauce 1 tbsp
  • Ketchup 1tbsp
  • Dijon Mustard 2tsp
  • Worcestershire Sauce 2tsp
  • Cider Vinegar 1tsp

Honey, Mustard & Soy Marinade
Adapted from Amoy.co.uk

  • Soy Sauce 2 tbsp
  • Runny Honey 2 tbsp
  • Grainy Mustard 1 tbsp
  • A sprinkle of Seasme Seeds

Satay Sauce
Adapted from BBC Goodfood

  • 1/2 Lime Juiced
  • Runny Honey 2tsp
  • Soy Sauce 1 tbsp
  • Curry Powder 1 tbsp
  • Smooth Peanut Butter 3tbsp
  • Coconut Milk 165ml

As always thank you for reading our blog, if you ever have a question or topic regarding beekeeping you would like us to answer through our blog please do email us at info@holthallapiary.co.uk

Matthew Ingram
Holt Hall Apiary

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And… Another Season Starts

March seems to have gone by in the blink of an eye! It feels no sooner than one blog is finished it’s time to start writing the next. This month has been a month of final preperation and the start of the season especially with the warm weather in the last few days of the month.

The queens are starting to lay more and more now, the hives are increasing ready to make the most of the nectar when it becomes available, take at look at the queen in the first photo on the right!

Bees On The Move

The big job over the past two weeks has been moving hives out to their spring apiary, some hives will stay at that site all year but most will move after the Oil Seed Rape has finished flowering in May. To move hives we start the day before by strapping them up. We run a strap around each hive so that they can’t slide when we lift them on and off the trailer, the straps are pulled as tight as we can get them and then checked again when we start moving them.

The next morning we start at about 6am closing entrances, some use foam to stuff in the entrance ways, I personally like to use masking tape. The best thing about masking tape is if you were to forget to remove it the bees can chew through it and after a small bit of rain it will come off by itself.

As soon as the hives are closed we start loading the trailer, we can fit 15 on one layer but we sometimes add a second layer. We carry the pallets we use as hive stands on the back of the pickup so that we can save a trip taking the pallets out the day before. As soon as we get to the new site we put the pallets out and start moving the hives onto their new spot. We remove the straps and once everything else is ready we open up the hives and let them out.


This Month’s Recip- bee

Apple & Cinnamon Honey Crumble (Adapted from BBC Good Food)

Ingredients:

  • 450g Bramley Apples
  • 1 tbsp Cinnamon Honey
  • 1 tbsp Water
  • 100g Plain Flour
  • 75g Butter
  • 50g Rolled Oats
  • 100g Brown Sugar
  • For an extra warmth of Cinnamon, add a pinch to the topping.

For a simple dessert you cannot beat a humble crumble, and a match made in heaven is Apple & Cinnamon. This recipe offsets the tartness of the apples with honey paired with warming cinnamon, the perfect combination being Holt Hall Apiary’s Cinnamon Honey.

This recipe would work perfectly with Ginger Infused Honey with pears instead of apple if you wanted a seasonal substitute! As always, please share pictures of your delicious creations and let us know how you get on!

Emma x

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.
  2. Wipe the apples and cut them into quarters, then remove the cores and slice each piece in two. Put them into a pan, and add the Cinnamon Honey. Add a tablespoon of water or apple juice and cook over a medium heat for about five minutes, until the apples start to soften.
  3. Transfer the apple mixture to a shallow ovenproof pie dish.
  4. Blend the flour and butter in a food processor for a few seconds, until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs.
  5. Stir in the oats and the brown sugar (and cinnamon if desired) and sprinkle over the cooked apples in the pie dish. Transfer to the oven to bake for 30 minutes or until crisp and golden-brown on top.

As always thank you for reading our blog, if you ever have a question or topic regarding beekeeping you would like us to answer through our blog please do email us at info@holthallapiary.co.uk

Matthew Ingram
Holt Hall Apiary

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Spring Is Finally Here

Spring is most certainly here, finally! Just a few more weeks until we start moving our hives out to their spring sites! The bees are looking really strong and I’m glad to say we have only lost a very small percentage of them. Unfortunately, it seems many other beekeepers haven’t been as fortunate and based on early reports I’m expecting the national average of hives lost through winter to be higher than the past few.

The warm weather over the past week has really got the bees flying and many are collecting pollen from any early flowering plants such as Crocus, Snowdrops and Hellebores.  We have taken the mouse guards off now so the bees have easy access into the hive without brushing the pollen of them as they climb through.

The big job over the past week has been painting a new shed we have positioned on the farm ready for our beekeeping experiences. If you have a voucher for a beekeeping experience the dates have now been released – HERE. Direction to the farm will be sent out in your confirmation email, it’s only 2 minutes up the road from Planters Garden Centre.

We will also be using the space for our queen rearing course that we are running for more advanced beekeepers interested in producing their own queens. We only have a few spaces left on this course and we are only planning on running one this year so be sure to book on ASAP!

Looking ahead over the next two weeks we will go around checking the sites we will be moving bees to, making sure they are safe and suitable. It’s also a good chance to chat to the farmers and see how the crops are coming on. Before the end of the month all our hives will be in their spring sites and ready to collect plenty of nectar and pollen from the oil seed rape!


Gardening for bees!

Its very easy to get lulled into the garden on the first beautiful day, it’s as though the winter is over and the sun will shine for months to come. However very quickly colder temperatures reappear and we are back into Winter before we know it.  It’s the same for our bees, the first sign of sun and they’re out of the hive looking for pollen.   We can help them find it by incorporating some early spring flowers in our gardens.

Spring flowering bulbs are a great way to feed your bees.  Just like our Bees they appear when the sun is shining.   Snowdrops, Winter Aconites, Snakes Head Fritillaria and Grape Hyacinths are some of the earliest Bee friendly plants and just after they’ve flowered is a great time to dig them up, split them and replant them.  That way guaranteeing even more for next year.

Complimenting the early bulbs at ground level are single flowered Hellebores (Christmas Rose), Primula or Primroses, Pulmonaria (with its pastel blue flowers), Ajuga (with its burgundy foliage and deep blue flowers) and Bergenia (with its bright green elephant ear leaves and pastel pink flowers).  All of these will die away (only to reappear next spring) allowing you to plant your summer plants around them.

Twisted Hazel catkins covered in our bees!

If you want something around a meter tall, there’s Rosemary, Ribes (or flowering current), Prunus Incisa Ko Jo Mai (Fuji Cherry, masses of Pale Pink flowers), Hazel for its catkins, single Rhododendrons, Pussy Willows, Mahonia (Yellow) and Berberis Darwini (bright orange).   The latter two are great for security because of their prickly leaves.

Finally, if you want a tree look out for early flowering Almonds, crab apples and pears.

If all that sounds like a lot of work leave the dandelions until at least they’ve flowered and allow Comfrey to run riot.  Comfrey also makes a great liquid food.  Simply cut the leaves (after flowering) and allow to soak for days (even weeks) in water. 


Thank you as ever for reading our blog, your support means a lot to us. I hope as things start to open up you will be able to come and see us at more markets and events. This month our only market will be at Market Bosworth on Sunday 28th March however online orders and click and collect are still available!

Matthew Ingram
Holt Hall Apiary

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January Jarring!

Well another month in lockdown has gone by but we’ve been very busy jarring honey! The warmer days in the last week have seen the bees making the most of the sun, they’ve been really active and have been finding the first snow drops that are just coming into flower.

As promised in last months blog I’m going to talk you through how we get the honey in the jar! Extracting honey is a different topic and we will cover that in the summer when we are extracting this years honey! This month as well as our own honey we have been busy jarring honey for another honey brand, we have done around 4,000 jars for them so far.


The Jarring Process!

The honey comes to us in 30lb buckets, although in the next couple of weeks we will be expanding so we can take barrels of honey. Barrels of honey are standard amongst big producers and hold 300kg of honey.

As soon as we get the honey, we put it straight in the warmers, they allow us to carefully warm the honey to around 40 degrees being careful not to go over 40 which would impact the taste and quality of the honey.

In the photos above you will see:

Top Left: The buckets of honey sat waiting to be jarred, each one is enough to fill around 60 jars.
Top Right: Inside the warmer, our warmer holds 15 buckets, 5 on each level. there is a heater above and below to ensure they all warm evenly
Bottom Left: The jarring machine uses gears to push just the right amount of honey out into the jars! It can take any size jar, we simply tell it how much to dispense and then calibrate it with the first few jars, we check every 10th jar to make sure nothing has changed and the jars are being filled properly!
Bottom Right: The jars packed into boxes and palletised ready to go out to the customer!

As honey naturally crystallises the buckets are sometimes solid, it can take just hours to get the honey runny enough to jar and other times it can take several days to a week. We will check the honey several times everyday and jar it as soon as it’s clear so that we aren’t warming the honey for longer than we need to!

The honey buckets are emptied into a tank that holds about 75kg and it’s piped directly into the jarring machine. We push the jar under and it automatically dispenses the correct amount of honey, we add the lid and make sure its on tight before adding the anti-tamper labels, best before dates and main label.

The other type of honey that’s very popular is Soft Set, it’s a silky-smooth white honey that is perfect to spread. This honey is a bit trickier to get right. We can start with any sort of honey, we warm it up so it is completely runny there can’t be any granules, we then add around 10% of soft set honey to the runny honey. Over the next few days of stirring, the runny honey starts to set like the soft set honey we added. We then jar it and the honey sets over the next few days, ready for you to enjoy on your toast!


This Month’s Reci-Bee!

Honey, Ginger & Pumpkin Seed Scones

(Adapted from National Trust Book of Scones by Emma Taylor)

Ingredients:

500g Plain Flour
2 tsp Baking Powder
100g Caster Sugar
1 tbsp Ground Ginger
125g Butter/Margarine
25g Grated Ginger
3 tsp Pumpkin Seeds
2 tbsp Runny Honey (or honey of your choice)
1 large egg, beaten
Approx. 150ml Milk (or milk alternative)

I LOVE a scone, I think they are super simple to make and are perfect for elevenses or with a cup of tea in the afternoon! In a perfect world I would make these to share with family, however I will have to sit and indulge myself with a cup of tea and a film! This recipe lends itself to Holt Hall Apiary’s Runny Honey, but for an extra Ginger kick for the fiery ginger lovers out there, feel free to use Ginger Infused Honey . Or this will give a beautiful flavour if you used the newest development – Lemon Infused for the perfect pairing of Lemon & Ginger!

Method:

Step 1 – Preheat the oven to 190°C/180°C fan. Line a baking sheet with greaseproof paper.

Step 2 – Sieve the flour, baking powder, sugar and ground ginger into a mixing bowl. Using your fingertips, rub in the butter until the mixture resembles fine crumbs. Stir in the pumpkin seeds.

Step 3 – Add the honey, beaten egg, grated ginger and milk to the bowl and mix to make a soft dough (you may not need all of this, save it for brushing the tops of the scones).

Step 4 – Turn out onto a lightly surface, and gently press with your hand, until the dough is 4cm thick (it’s thicker than you realise! My first attempt was too thin!!). Stamp out with a 7cm cutter (your choice on smooth or crimped edges). Any trimmings, bring together to form more scones (waste not want not!).

Step 5 – Brush the tops with milk, or a little egg if you have any left, and bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown.

Step 6 – Delicious warm, with butter or more honey!

Would love to see pictures, please share them to info@holthallapiary.co.uk.

Thank you for reading our blog, hopefully you’ll have a good idea of how your honey got into it’s jar! I’m looking forward to sharing the process of how we get the honey directly from our hives to you when the season starts!

Matthew Ingram
Holt Hall Apiary

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Hap-Bee New Year!

Happy New Year! What a difference a year makes, this time last year I was enjoying my time in Sydney before heading back up the coast to the bee farm I was working on. Corona Virus then was just being spoken about in the news but was isolated to China, who could have imagined what it would become!

I need to thank everyone who has supported Holt Hall Apiary in what has been a different but surprisingly good year for us. We met all the targets we set last year for the number of hives we wanted and took on several new stockists and customers for our jarring and extracting services. We have been increasingly well supported at our markets with great turn outs and lot’s of people coming back to us for their honey which we love to see!

Looking towards 2021

It seems already that it’s going to be a very busy year! January will see us contract jarring (Jarring honey for someone else) around 2,500 jars for a customer we worked with towards the end of 2020.

Hive building and frames are well underway now I still have around 80 boxes left to make but that’s a job I can be doing along side other things so long as they are finished by March.

We are planning to get up to around 150 hives this year and really push towards maximising honey production and especially producing more Heather honey as it proved so popular. Our home reared queens have also been popular with a small waiting list already.

The bees are doing well, we are checking the hives weight every two weeks or so just to make sure they have enough, those that haven’t get a kilo of bakers fondant which gives the bees instant sugar without them needing to do much processing which is hard when its cold outside.

Bees eating the fondant

This Month’s Reci-Bee!

Honey & Gingerbread Loaf

(Adapted from BBC Good Food by Emma Taylor)

This cake is super simple to make but gives a beautiful festive flavour to bring a close to another year of festivities. I would eat this cake straight out the oven if I could! This is wonderful, on its own, slathered with butter or if you are feeling creative, why not try it with Greek Yoghurt and some berries as a festive brunch option! It’s what I will be doing!

This recipe will lend itself to many of the Holt Hall Apiary honeys available, each will give a slightly different flavour, why not try it with a few and see which you think is best!

Method

Step 1 – Heat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/gas 4 and butter and line a 900g loaf tin. Put the honey, butter and sugar in a saucepan and warm over a low heat, stirring occasionally, until the butter has melted, and the sugar dissolved. Remove from the heat and pour in the vanilla extract, then set aside to cool. If you are as eager as I was to get this cake in the oven, keep stirring the mixture off the heat to help reduce the temperature.

Step 2 – Sieve the flour into a bowl with the baking powder, mixed spice and a pinch of salt. Add the egg and milk, then gently fold in along with the cooled melted butter mixture. Once combined, tip into the prepared tin, place on a baking tray, and bake for 40 mins until springy to the touch and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Leave to cool for 10 mins in the tin, then place on a cooling rack and leave to cool completely. 

Step 3 – Enjoy in any way you want!

Will keep in an airtight container for up to four days

Ingredients:

100g Butter, plus extra to grease the tin (or you can use a tin liner)

100g Ginger Infused Honey (I found this one worked best, but Runny Honey would also work, just add an extra pinch of Mixed Spice in!)

125g Soft Brown Sugar

½ tsp Vanilla Extract

200g Self Raising Flour

¼ tsp Baking Powder

1 ½ tsp Mixed Spice

Pinch of Salt

1 egg, beaten

4 tbsp Milk


Next Months blog we will be talking about jarring honey, how we get it from the hive into the jars ready for you to enjoy! If you make this month’s reci-bee (I highly recommend you do, it tastes amazing!) then please do send us your photo or tag us in it on Facebook or Instagram.

As ever thank you for reading our blog, your support really does mean a great deal.

Matthew Ingram
Holt Hall Apiary

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Bee Merry! Christmas is nearly here

Christmas is nearly here! Now only another 3 weeks until Christmas and we are busy sending orders out and getting any pre ordered hampers ready to deliver. We have also decided to expand the blog slightly so sometimes we will have a piece on plants for bees and others a recipe for you to try using our honey! This month you get both!

We were lucky that even with the lockdown we were able to attend Market Bosworth Farmers Market which was really well attended and well supported which makes a massive difference to small businesses. Looking forward we are waiting to have some guidance on what Tier 3 means for our December markets, as soon as we know we will post it on our Facebook page.

We have spent the last month working on getting ready for next season. The hives are now all ready for winter and other than lifting them every few weeks to check they have enough food we now just have to leave them to it. It seems strange after looking after and checking them weekly for much of the season that we can now step back and be confident that we did all we could to help our bees get through winter.

This past week we received a load of wood which will go to make 120 brood boxes. A big job cutting it down and assembling the boxes but one that will mean we can expand significantly next season. We are hoping to get to around 150 hives next year which we think is easily do-able without impacting our honey crop too much!

Recip-bee of the month!

Our festive honey has also proved to be very popular, enough that we have just finished jarring a second batch so there is plenty to get us through until Christmas! If you are thinking about ways you can use our festive honey why not try Emma’s Recipe for a festive honey biscuit, adapted from BBC Good Food

To Make 20 cookies you need:

  • 100g Soft Butter
  • 100g Sugar
  • 1 large tablespoon of Festive Spiced Honey
  • 1 Egg Yolk
  • 1 level teaspoon of Mixed Spice
  • 180g Self Raising Flour

Fancy trying this great recip-bee? Add Festive honey
to your shopping basket – Here

The Method:

  • STEP 1 – Beat the butter and sugar in a bowl with a wooden spoon until creamy.
  • STEP 2 – Next beat in the Festive Spiced honey and the egg yolk.
  • STEP 3 – Add the mixed spice and flour, mix into soft dough.
  • STEP 4 – Take a teaspoon of dough and roll it into a ball.
  • STEP 5 – Then do the same to the other cookies.
  • STEP 6 – Space out on a greased baking tray, as they will spread.
  • STEP 7 – Cook for 10 minutes at 175C.
  • STEP 8 – Best enjoyed with a cup of tea!


Gardening For Bees!

For those of you looking to receive or give a Bee friendly gift this Christmas there’s nothing better than a winter flowering garden plant.   On warm sunny winter days Bees will venture out of the hive and what better way of making that journey worth while than making pollen available to them.

Winter flowering plants not only help save bees but also brighten up our gardens not just with colourful flowers but scent too. Helebores or Christmas roses, especially the simple single ones provide great colour for the front of a border.   You could create a feast for bees by interplanting with Crocus, snowdrops and Winter Aconites. 

Although most Garden Centres will be sold out of bulbs by now, they normally get potted bulbs around Christmas time for instant colour.  If you already successfully grow Rhododendrons and Camellias why not try underplanting with Winter Heathers for a carpet of colour. Putting flowers at the height bees fly at saves them energy ensuring they get back to the hive safely. 

Try Mahonia Charity or some of its relations to produce a big display of bright yellow flowers and plant Sarcococca for a mass of little flowers whose perfume punches well above its flower size.

Lastly try clothing your walls and trellis with Winter flowering Clematis (Cirrhosa), Ivy that you can avoid cutting so it flowers and winter Honeysuckle.

Winter Honey Suckle – Photo Credit Gardina

Written by
Gerald Ingram, Planters Garden Centre


Thank you for reading our monthly blog, hopefully you’ve enjoyed our new articles and we would love to see photos of your baking or bee plants! Send them to us on facebook, Instagram or by email as we might just show them in next months post!

Matthew Ingram
Holt Hall Apiary


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Feeling Festive… Already!

Well November is here and I have to admit I’m already starting to feel festive! As the weather goes cooler the jobs outside with the bees comes to an end and office and honey room jobs take over!

I like to be continually trying new ideas and working on new products, this month has seen the launch of our two festive products. It’s the first time I have tried a seasonal product and already I’ve been very well supported so I need to thank you all for your support!

Our first release was our gift hamper, I’m really excited about this one as it highlights our most popular items and comes with an information sheet about us, our bees and the items in the hamper. We even have a Christmas bee on the packaging.. whats not to love! To help those stuck in a lockdown area we can send it in the post directly to the gift recipient with a message if you tell us at checkout at no extra cost! If you’re interested in getting one of our hampers they’re available – HERE

Move the slider to see both of our hamper designs!

Our second new product launch was our Festive Spiced Honey. We have infused our runny honey with a warming blend of spices; nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves to name a few. The honey smells and tastes of christmas and has quickly become my favourite of our flvaoured honeys, this is limited edition and will only be running until December! Its available – Here

Away from the new products I’ve spent a few days this past week cleaning down the honey room for the winter. All of the honey processing is finished other than jarring which we do as and when we need to. All of the equipment is scrubbed clean to remove the honey and wax which isn’t as easy as it sounds. Honey can be cleaned much quicker with warm water but the warm water melts the wax and coats the equipment which makes it a nightmare to clean.

The most difficult piece of equipment to clean is the wax melter… as the name suggests its designed to melt wax which means getting the melted wax off again is quite a challenge. This time I tried a different approach, I filled the melter up with hot water and left it to raise the temperature so the wax melted and floated to the top of the water where it then set when I turned the machine off. Certainly saved me lots of scraping! The honey room is now back to looking as good as new after its busy season extracting over 2tons of honey!


This month’s Markets, please do come along and support ourselves and fellow market traders!

  • Buzzards Valley Artisan Market – Buzzards Valley B78 3EQ – 8th November 10am – 2pm
  • The Open Air Country Fair (Christmas Market!) – The Horse and Jockey WS14 9JE – 21 & 22nd November 10am – 3:30pm
  • Market Bosworth Farmers Market – Market Bosworth main square – 22nd Novemebr 9am – 1:30pm

Thank you for reading and supporting us, if you haven’t already please do sign up to our mailing list below for updates on our business and new blog releases.

Matthew Ingram
Holt Hall Apiary

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