Of all the natural sweeteners out there, honey still remains the hottest of favourites. Maybe it’s our childhood memories of licking the sweet nectar off sticky fingers; perhaps it’s our admiration for those remarkable bees who toil so tirelessly to build their hives, protect their queen, pollinate the Plant Kingdom and keep Nature in harmony. Bottom line: honey still rocks! So much so that South Africans consume around 4 000 tons of the stuff a year.
At Truefood (a division of Absolute Organix), we’ve recently set up our own honey production line, sourcing and packaging raw, unfiltered local honey from respected, dedicated beekeepers.
Our honey is seasonal, and the nectar sources vary depending on the time of the year. The season starts in June in the area around Pretoria-Rustenberg-Groblersdal, where the bees thrive on indigenous aloes. Aloe daviana is purported to be the richest source of natural pollen in the world and this gives a huge nutritional boost to the bee populations and, as a result, to both the quality and amount of their honey.
Then, in the Spring, the hives journey to the Lowveld for the bees to feast on fragrant orange blossom and the gorgeous pink and white flowering racemes of macadamia. Timing is especially crucial when it comes to orange blossom – the trees flower for only three weeks. Orange and macadamia honeys are aromatically more fragrant than aloe, and are also slow granulating.
In October/November, the hives are on the move again, this time to nearby eucalyptus (bluegum) plantations established originally by the mines.
Bees, like the rest of us in SA, typically take a “vacation” over December, and then it’s on to the Free State’s endless horizon of sunflowers. By March, they’ve been moved again, this time to bluegum plantations in Northern Natal.
And then the cycle starts again …