THE dangers of bad weather apply as much to our bee population as our livestock, we discovered in last week's Journal from North Devon's beekeepers who have been watching their hives for evidence of wind and rain penetration.
This week the area's beekeepers association spokesman Jack Mummery continues his observations about the honey produced here and across the country.
"Some honey is produced from only one plant (monofloral). In the UK the most common monofloral honeys are from oil seed rape and ling heather.
"Rape honey crystalises very rapidly, sometimes in the comb before the beekeeper can extract it, and heather honey is like a jelly referred to as thixotropic, which has to be pressed out of the comb.
"Rape honey is very light coloured and sets with very fine crystals, sometimes as white as lard, while heather honey is amber coloured with a very strong distinctive flavour and remains in a jelly like consistency which, when stirred, will become runny only to revert back to jelly when stirring is ended.
"Manuka honey is from the nectar of the manuka shrub and comes mainly from New Zealand. It's reputed to have healing powers and health benefits but it is very expensive.
"According to research by the main trade association of New Zealand's manuka honey producers; whereas 1,700 tonnes of manuka honey are made there annually, representing almost all the world's production, some 10,000 tonnes of produce is sold internationally as manuka honey, including 1,800 tonnes in the UK.
"Honey is also available in the form of honey comb, mostly what we call 'cut comb' which is cut from a larger honey comb. Occasionally conditions are right and the beekeeper will get the bees to produce individual combs either in square thin wooden frames or in round plastic frames, around a pound in weight. Comb honey is considered by some the best available.
"Small beekeepers who sell honey have to adhere to the same legal regulations as large commercial honey processors. These regulations cover hygienic processing, weights and measures, product description, labelling which even covers regulated minimum letter height.
"If you enjoy eating honey and want to learn more about bees and beekeeping North Devon Beekeepers are running a beekeeping beginners course starting Monday, March 10.
Contact Cathy Backway for further details on catherine email@example.com