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Plants for bees. Purple sage flowers in an English country garden.

Frequently Asked Questions


Where do you keep your bees? Harry's Honey has hives in several locations (beekeepers call these out-apiaries) around the Cotswolds - in small groups near Birdlip, Cheltenham, Winchcombe, Evesham, and out towards Cirencester. It's important to make sure that the bees are looked after so the out-apiaries are within easy travelling distance of one another.

When do you harvest the honey? Honey is a natural thing and it is seasonal.  It's usually possible to harvest honey in the late spring/early summer and then again in the early autumn but this is really dependent on how the weather has been. Cold and rain mean that flowers may not open or their whole flowering period may be delayed. Bees really don't like to fly in the rain either so they may simply stay at home. Generally, if we've all been moaning about bad summer weather, the bees will also have had a struggle to gather enough nectar to make honey and will have less honey to share.

Why is honey different colours? Bees produce their honey by evaporating flower nectar in their hive so the colour of honey depends on the flowers the honeybees have visited - some give light nectar whilst others are much darker. Weather and location are big factors in the range of flowers accessible to a colony of bees so honey can vary in colour from hive to hive and from year to year.

What is raw honey? The idea of "raw honey" is a really big thing right now. Some people are fed up with highly processed food - they think it tastes pretty unpleasant and they believe it has had all the natural goodness stripped out. If you feel like this, the idea of "raw" or "unprocessed" honey is appealing BUT there is actually no definition of "raw" as it relates to honey. What does "unprocessed" really mean and is it even possible when all honey has to be handled in some way to get it from the hive into a jar? Heating and fine filtering are often considered examples of "processing" but it's a tricky one.

Is your honey raw? We handle our honey gently. Most importantly, we don't heat the honey to pasteurise it AND we only lightly strain it - to remove large chunks of wax and bee's legs etc. The important thing for us is that the filter lets through as much of the pollen as possible. We do strain the honey because we figure most people don't want bits of bee on their toast. If you would like completely unfiltered honey then let us know - its something we'd be happy to discuss. As there's no definition of "raw honey" its not something we put on our jars but we believe our honey is as good as it gets.

Can everyone eat honey? Honey is a wonderful thing but it's not suitable for absolutely everyone. It's not suitable for children under 12 months old as their digestive system is not mature enough to deal with it.

Does it matter if my honey has crystalised? All honey will crystallise and become solid over time. Crystallised honey is a natural thing - the honey has not "gone off" or gone bad. In fact some people prefer it and you can buy something called soft set honey - which is actually just honey crystallised by the beekeeper before it's bottled. The rate of crystallisation depends on several factors including the type of nectar the bees have harvested. It also happens with lightly filtered honey. The pollen grains in it act as a point for crystals to form around. Some commercial honey is highly filtered for this reason - in the belief that shoppers expect clear honey that takes ages to crystallise. Crystallised honey can be a bit difficult to spread through - if it bothers you, reverse the process by popping the jar in some warm water for a while.

Nucs of Bees

Do you need a licence to keep bees in the UK? You don’t need a licence or “permission” to keep bees. If you live close to other people though, it’s good policy to let your neighbours know of your plans. Some people simply don’t like the thought of bees close by. Others, if they or a family member have a known allergy to bee stings, might be understandably concerned. It’s best to check all this out before you buy your bees.

Why buy bees from UK bred queens? The demand for queens is huge – from hobby and commercial beekeepers. Suppliers often import honeybee queens to meet this demand. It would be really unfair to say that anyone knowingly imports bees that harbour pests or diseases but bringing in bees to the UK means there is always this possibility. Think about how the varroa mite first came to Europe and now, Australia. It wasn’t even recognised as a pest at first in the UK. Because of this, we believe that it’s best to buy British bees and queens if you possibly can.

What is the difference between an overwintered nuc and a spring nuc? An overwintered nuc is an established colony. It has survived the previous winter and is headed with last year’s queen. A spring nuc is produced in the same year that you buy it. It has the current year’s queen.

What size of nucs do you sell? There are many different kinds of hive - each with their own dimensions. We sell both sizes of National nucs. Nationals are the most popular hives in the UK. One size is “standard” with frames that measure 14 inches by 8 1/2 inches or 345mm by 216mm. The other size is bigger. This is known as 14x12 because the frames measure 14 inches by 12 inches (or 356mm by 305mm).

When should I order my nuc of bees? We fill requests in the order we receive them. If you want your nuc as early in the year as possible (which many people do so they can get on with beekeeping in the spring) then it’s best to reserve your nuc in the autumn.

When will my nuc be ready? We estimate that overwintered nucs are ready between mid-April to mid-May. Spring nucs are ready from late May to mid-July. It’s really important to note that these are estimates only – actual timings depend on weather and the successful raising of queen bees.

I have ordered a nuc but I need to delay it – is this possible? Yes. Please get in touch and let us know your new preferred collection/delivery date.

Are your nucs and queens bred in the UK? Yes. All our bees are bred and cared for in the UK – in and around Cheltenham and the Cotswolds.

Will the queen be marked? Yes, she will be marked.

Will the queen be clipped? If you are buying an overwintered nuc, the queen will be clipped. If you have ordered a spring nuc, we’ll clip the queen unless you ask us to do otherwise. Please let us know when you order.

Do you treat your honeybees for varroa? Yes, we do. We can tell you the treatment we have used.

Can you deliver my nuc? Yes, Harry can deliver your nuc if you live within 25 miles of Honey HQ. If you live outside this area, you are very welcome to come and pick it up. Let us know when you pay your deposit.

Can I use my own nuc box to collect the bees? We are very aware of the spread of bee diseases so, rather than risk this, we ask that you don’t bring your own equipment to collect your bees. You can use the nuc box we give you to collect swarms etc.

Can I inspect the nuc when I come to collect it? In readiness for collection, the nuc will have been closed up the previous evening. You would lose too many of the flying bees if you were to open it up to inspect it. If you have any concerns when you get your nuc home, give Harry a call straight away.

How do I install a nuc? Please see the website page “How to Install a Nuc” which will give you all the information you need. If Harry has delivered your nuc, he’ll be happy to answer any questions on the day. If you would like his help installing, then just let him know.

Will your nucs fit with a FLOW hive? FLOW hives are made to Langstroth hive dimensions. These are different to National hive dimensions. We offer nucs for Nationals only. From what we can see, FLOW do not offer a National version for the hive body itself – although they do offer National supers (supers are only for collecting honey). So, if you have bought a complete FLOW hive “package” then it will be a Langstroth hive body with Langstroth supers. You will need bees in a Langstroth nuc. Before buying any bees, best to check your new hive dimensions with FLOW.

Beekeeping Courses

What happens if I want to cancel a course? If you cancel your place at least two weeks before the course date, we'll give you a full refund. Cancellations received less than 2 weeks before the course start date will only be refunded if we can re-sell the course place(s). A course booking is an acceptance of this cancellation policy

What happens if there is bad weather? We occassionally cancel a course if the weather is unsuitable. Generally though we can switch the course round to accomodate bad weather. Bee keeping is an outdoor activity. It can be uncomfortable if it is too hot or too wet. Also, bees are living creatures - sometimes it is too cold or too wet to open hives. If we do need to cancel, we will let you know and rearrange another date as soon as possible.

Harry's Gift Cards

How do your gift cards work? Our cards are eCards - the recipient of your gift will receive an email with the subject line "You just got a gift card from YOUR NAME". They will have a unique gift code which is included in the email.

How do recipients redeem their gift card? To redeem the card, the recepient just needs to go to our Shop page. Once they have found items to buy they go through the purchase process. They select the "Redeem a gift card" option and enter their unique gift card code. This code will ahve been sent in the original email letting them know of their gift

What happens if the order is less than the gift card value? Any amount left over after making a purchase can be used for future purchases.

What happens if the order value is more than the card value? If the sale is worth more than the card value, you can pay the remainder using the other payments methods we use e.g credit card

How long are your gift cards valid for? Our vouchers are valid for 2 years from the purchase date

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