All the Buzz about Schoonbee Landgoed’s Honey

- 28th Jul 2022

Schoonbee Landgoed not only produces export quality citrus fruit and table grapes but recently embarked on a new venture: beekeeping and honey production.

Dirk Uys, the beekeeper at Schoonbee Landgoed. Image credit: Schoonbee Landgoed

What is better than drizzling a golden droplet of honey in your tea? Or replacing all those sugary calories in your cooking and baking expeditions with the healthier option produced by nature? Honey, known for its powerful antioxidants and nutrients, is one of the oldest natural sweeteners available to mankind.

Did you know that honey also has healing properties? Topical honey treatment has been used to heal wounds and burns since ancient Egypt. The practice is still common today. Honey is also mentioned in ancient Biblical texts and since that time, its popularity has never faded.

Why honeybees on a citrus farm?

Schoonbee Landgoed’s core focus is growing citrus fruit and grapes, so why diversify into honey production? Everything in nature has been created to function in perfect harmony and balance. For the team at Schoonbee Landgoed, it is not only about growing the best quality fresh produce, but also ensuring we protect our environment.

Adopting sustainable farming methods is one of our top priorities at Schoonbee Landgoed. Therefore, we have implemented initiatives such as developing a solar farm to reduce our carbon footprint and using netting on our orchards and vineyards to save up to 30% of our precious water.

It was this mindset that birthed the idea of nurturing a resident bee colony on Schoonbee Landgoed as bees are key to the sustainability of our planet. Success will be an indicator of our respect for the environment.

At this point, it is interesting to note that citrus trees do not rely on bees to produce fruit. In fact, certain citrus varieties get seeds inside the fruit if bees move between the cultivars which are not ideal for our consumers. 

Citrus honey – a rare delicacy

It seemed obvious to exclusively produce citrus honey since we have vast citrus orchards on the Schoonbee Landgoed farm. However, soon after starting our resident bees project, we realised that the abundance of citrus blossoms from August to October every year does not make up for the need for an alternative food source for the rest of the year. Therefore, we started actively planting more aloes in the field to supplement sources of food in the winter months from May until July. 

bee citrus blossom
A honeybee collecting pollen from a citrus blossom. Image: Pixabay.

The exclusivity of citrus honey comes from the fact that citrus flowers’ lifespan is so short and most beekeepers do not want to expose their bees to citrus anymore due to the risk of lethal chemical sprays. The amount of citrus honey produced per year is limited making citrus honey rare but extremely popular. This almost transparent honey has a unique taste without the aroma of the field and flowers that usually accompany other types of honey.

Macadamia honey – a rich alternative 

To combat the limited amount of citrus honey being produced annually, we have extended our honey adventures to include Macadamia honey from a beekeeper in the Loskop Valley. This type of honey is produced by bees living near macadamia nut tree orchards so that the bees can pollinate the white flowers of the macadamia nut trees. So, if you are a fan of nuts, macadamia honey’s slightly nutty flavour is definitely for you.

Macadamia blossoms bee
A honeybee approaching a macadamia blossom. Image credit: Michael Cawdrey (MikeC4503 from Flickr)

As soon as the honeybees collect the macadamia blossom nectar, it is mixed with an enzyme known as invertase in the bees’ mouths. Back at the hive, the bees will share the collected nectar between themselves and thereby mixing the nectar even more with the bee enzyme. Thereafter, the bees will deposit the honey into the characteristic beeswax cells and beat their wings just above the wax cells to reduce the water content in the honey until the honey is just the right consistency.

The inclusion of macadamia honey at Schoonbee Landgoed ensures that we have honey available for the larger part of the year.

Schoonbee Landgoed’s Honey Products

All our honey is pure, raw and non-irradiated (irradiated foods have undergone a process of ionized radiation in order to increase shelf life). Honey can be preserved forever if stored correctly. When humidity sets in and a white foam layer forms, just spoon it off. The remainder will always keep perfect indefinitely.

Our seasonal Citrus Honey is unprocessed honey with a delicate citrus flower nuance while our Macadamia Honey, sourced from a local beekeeper in the Loskop Valley whose bees feed from macadamia nut trees, has a slightly nutty flavour.

The latest addition to our honey range is our Creamed Honey which is handmade with care in small batches from pure, raw Macadamia Honey. Lighter in colour than liquid honey, Creamed Honey has a stronger taste and velvety smooth, spreadable consistency.

Visit our online shop to view our full range of honey products:
www.schoonbee.co.za/shop

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