Good Food Blog
None of your beeswaxPosted at 11:30AM, 24 September 2008 by Jenni Muir - Food writer
Have you spotted any local honey recently? I saw several jars of Regent's Park honey in a North London delicatessen a few weeks ago, but John Chapple, chairman of the London Beekeepers Association, who keeps hives in various royal parks and parts of west London, says it has been a poor year for honey and reiterates the British Honey Association's assessment that UK supplies will run out by Christmas.
Mike Thurlow of Orchid Apiaries also told me that Norfolk just hasn't had a proper crop this year - really just a few buckets' worth, whereas in a good year he'll collect around six tonnes. Last season was also very poor, which makes any Norfolk honey that you can find a genuine speciality.
And while many of us have (finally!) been celebrating four days of lovely sunshine in England, it's too late for it to have a positive effect on honey supplies. As John Chapple explains, most of the season's flowers are gone so there is little for the bees to collect - what pollen they do forage at this time of year goes to their own stores.
Are we all guilty of taking honey for granted? We just always assume it will be there, don't we? But imports are getting harder to come by too: Australian supplies are hampered by drought, China and Argentina have had unfavourable weather conditions, the US has been plagued by colony collapse disorder. Some are even claiming that the demise of the bee population is a more troubling environmental crisis than climate change.
Things have been so bad that Slow Food London decided to highlight the issue at its Southbank festival last weekend. In addition to offering various honey tastings, talks and demonstrations, they asked visitors to sign a petition urging the government to increase funding for research into colony disease, which is a growing source of concern among British beekeepers. You can sign the petition via their website .
I've never thought of myself as a honey connoisseur, but even I've thought about panic buying
I've never thought of myself as a honey connoisseur - I'm more your peanut butter kind of girl - but even I've thought about panic buying. Professionally speaking, the comparative honey tastings I've joined over the years have been fascinating - so many different flavours and textures. The idea that there wouldn't be any in the cupboard is inconceivable. Who doesn't merrily slather it on toast, drizzle it over yogurt, and whisk it into salad dressings?
Of course no one expects the sort of hysteria we see when petrol supplies run low, but next time you see a jar or two of local honey, you might want to snap them up. And meter them out carefully. Gourmet rarities should be savoured, after all.