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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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