In this week's Meet the Makers, we are putting the spotlight on great Irish honey producers.
Honey has such versatility as an ingredient, it can be used to glaze a ham, add sweetness to a cake, topping for porridge, even used to make a skin scrub, but can also sooth a tickle in the throat. This ancient form of food production has been used for medicinal purposes to this very day.
Interestingly, a study published in late 2018 (*source: Food Chemistry), by researchers in Dublin City University and Trinity College Dublin, into the health benefits of honey "from different floral origins and from rural versus urban landscapes" found that Irish honey is as powerful in terms of its health benefits when compared to the world-renowned Manuka honey from New Zealand. Researchers also found that honey produced by urban bees had a greater level of antioxidants than honey from rural bees, possibly down to the multi-floral abundance surrounding hives in a city. The research is fascinating if you are interested in the true health benefits of honey, it's well worth a read, however, the take away from it is that we should probably all be eating more Irish honey! Good news for all of these amazing producers below.
Other good advantages of consuming local honey are, especially if you suffer from hayfever (which in Ireland the numbers have risen in the past few years), is that it is said you can build a tolerance to pollen, hence helping with symptoms.
Try this recipe! Honey, caramel and chocolate tart
Raw honey is key for many producers. Raw meaning that the honey hasn't been heated over 35 degrees Celsius, which is the temperature of the active hive, meaning there is no added heat treatment afterwards so it retains all the natural goodness.
Keeping all of this in mind, these are the producers we are buzzing about… too much?
Olly’s Farm, Dublin 24
Located 20 minutes from Tallaght, this eight-acre farm was started originally by Olly Nolan and his partner Chirs with the ambition of being self-sufficient, producing their own vegetables, beef, lamb and then honey. Olly, who started the business and is the beekeeper, had just two beehives initially and as the demand grew for his product, he expanded and now has 50 hives.
Olly won a gold award at Blas na hÈireann (Irish Food Awards) in 2017 for his Dublin Mountain Heather Honey. In the same year, he also took home gold for "Best Food Producer in Dublin." His passion for beekeeping is tasted in the end product; each jar reflects his dedication, skill and love for the tradition and ambition for great quality.
Olly also has beehives on top of Teelings Distillery and the honey has been known to find its way into more than a few Teelings Hot Whiskeys!
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All restocked with blossom & softset #honey thanks for posting @smallchanges.ie . . . #Repost @smallchanges.ie with @get_repost ・・・ The only thing sweeter than a short week is a fresh batch of @ollysfarm raw honeys We've a few helpings of Dalkey, Glenasmole, and Killruddery Blossom, and Lucan Softset . . . #IrishHoney #DublinHoney #bees #shoplocal
Leinster Honey, Wildlife Sanctuary, Wicklow
Leinster Honey produce raw Irish honey from their 17.5-acre honey farm and sanctuary in Wicklow but maintain various locations around South County Dublin (Goatstown, Airfield Estate, and Stillorgan). For owner Brian O'Toole, the welfare of his bees is of the highest importance along with the conservation of native Irish plants.
Having always been captivated by nature and wildlife, Brian's passion lead him down the career path of beekeeping and he bought the farm in Redcross in Wicklow in 2017 to further develop this passion, aiming to grow an organically managed wildlife sanctuary and apiary site.
He produces Wicklow Heather Honey straight from hive to jar, leaving all the natural enzymes and pollen included. It is quite simply delicious.
Follow his story and developments on their website here, with lists of stockists.
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Extraction earlier today. Gorgeous Early Summer Raw Irish Honey from the @AirfieldEstate Apiary. Traces of freshly stored Pollen left, Plenty of which ends up in the jarred Honey. Straight from the comb, through two filters to remove wax, then straight into the jars. Real Honey not heavily processed and ultimately altered as Supermarket offerings, and made by our Happy little Native Irish Honeybee #airfieldestate #LeinsterHoneyFarmandWildlifeSanctuary #Wicklow #LeinsterHoneyFarm #Spring #Beekeeping #RawHoney #DublinHoney #IrishFood #Dundrum #Stillorgan #Blackrock #LeinsterHoney #irishfood #Leinster #ireland #healthfood #instagood #picoftheday #love #bee #healthyeating #health #outdoors #shoplocal #savethebees
Galtee Honey Farm, Co. Tipperary
Run by the Mac Giolla Codas family in Cahir, County Tipperary, one of the most well-known beekeeping families in Ireland, the Galtee Honey Farm is home to approximately 170 beehives. Owners Michaél and Aoife are advocates for the conservation of the native Irish Black Queen Bees and breed it on their farm for other beekeepers so that they can help keep the bees from going extinct.
They won a gold award at Blas na hÈireann (Irish Food Awards) for their Raw Wildflower Honey in 2016, which is made from the pollen of blackberry blossom, white clover, horse chestnut, sycamore and dandelion.
Try this recipe! Honey Madeleines
Coolmore Bees, Carrigaline, Co. Cork
The bees at Coolmore live in a habitat of hundreds of acres of countryside near the Cork Harbour, so they get to pollinate the woodlands and wildflowers giving the honey that unique flavour.
Mark Newham and his daughter Helena are the keepers behind Coolmore Bees. They believe in protecting Irish native bees and have developed a breeding programme for the queens of the Native Irish Black Bee, so others can start their own beehive.
They also hold beekeeping courses in this beautiful part of Cork, where you can learn everything you need to know including making your very own honey.
BeeActiv, Moylish, Limerick
BeeActiv was set up by Conan McDonnell and Dr Michael Geary from their love for beekeeping and nature. Their hives are located in the beautiful Golden Vale, Tipperary and Adare, Limerick. Both Michael and Conan are chemists and strongly believe that honey and bee products contain great medicinal properties.
Their Raw Ivy Honey is as pure as it comes, made from nectar collected from the ivy plant, which won a gold award at Blas na hÉireann in 2017. They also sell products made from their amazing honey such as handmade Irish beeswax candles and lozenges.
Read more Meet the Makers: Irish Butter Producers
Dublin Honey Project, Dublin
Dublin 1, 4, 6, 7, 9, 14 are all fortunate enough to be home to Dublin Honey Project. Owner Kieran Harnett is a professional photographer, who just happens to also be a beekeeper on the side. His passion and dedication to producing top-quality honey has lead him to running the Dublin Honey Project and through this business and teaching classes for the Dublin Beekeepers Association and in UCD, he has become one of the most recognisable beekeepers around the city.
Kieran keeps hives in UCD, Dublin 4, Belvedere College, Dublin 1, the Dublin Mountains, Dublin 14, and Drumcondra, Dublin 9. Each hive requires 30 minutes of maintenance each week so he is kept busy at each site and each postcode gives the honey different flavour profiles seasonally. This is a truly unique business and one that requires so much love and attention, so be sure to keep an eye out for the DHP jars and nab one when you can to support it!
Sliabh Aughty Honey, Loughrea, Co Galway
This small, family-run business has been producing the finest natural raw honey for generations. Leahy Beekeeping is located on the Sliabh Aughty Mountains where the bees pollinate on wildflowers and herbs in the area such as elderberry, sycamore, clover, blackberry and chestnuts, giving the honey a fragrant taste.
Their honey is 100% raw and single filtered so still retains all the natural nutrients. They also use their honey to create a suite of incredible products such as beeswax candles, food wraps, and skin care products. A visit to their farm is worth a trip as you can also take a bee tour and see where your honey is coming from. In such a beautiful location, it's hard not to venture west!
What do you love to add honey into? Let us know in the comments below.