A record Kairos honey harvest

The director’s office at Kairos HQ was comandeered by our beekeepers on one of the hottest days of the year to harvest honey from our hives. It was the biggest Kairos honey harvest yet, reports our Bee Patron, Dr Shona Blair

It was an exceptionally hot and sticky August day when we harvested 210 lbs of delicious honey from the Kairos hives. Led by our beekeeping expert, Mick Coen, Grace and Justin toiled away for hours in roasting conditions to produce one of our best yields yet.

Even though it was over 35º, all the doors and windows of our honey extraction room had to be closed to keep the bees from the Head Office garden out, otherwise they would have been trying to rob the combs – and quite probably would have been unimpressed by all the human activity and landed a few stings.

The heat was stifling, and the work was hard… but it was fantastic to see the dedication of the Kairos bee team to the pinnacle of the beekeeping year – the honey harvest. Grace and Justin have both clearly been stung by the beekeeping bug. Their competence and confidence was impressive, as they opened the hives and removed the honeycombs, uncapped (scrapping the little lids of wax the bees put in place once they have filled a cell on the comb with honey), and then spun the combs in the extractor to harvest the honey.

Although the room was uncomfortably warm, the smell of beeswax and honey was delicious. Seeing the first peep of honey slowly creep out of the bottom of the extractor was very exciting for all of us. It was mesmerising to watch the honey flow out and then into the sieve that was used to catch bits of wax, and finally into the honey bucket. No one could resist dipping a spoon into the stream for a taste. Our littlest helper, Isaac, was particularly impressed.

It is hard to imagine anyone forgetting 2020, and mostly for all the wrong reasons, but the Kairos honey provided a ray of sunshine this year. The Head Office honey was a light caramel colour, with a rich floral smell and a lovely sweet flavour with the slightest hint of citrus.

Much to the surprise of many people, honey is by no means a standard product. In terms of taste, colour and other properties, there is huge variety between different batches of honey. Most of this variety is down to the different flowers the bees visit to collect the nectar they turn into honey. Our nine hives are in a number of gardens in south London, where Mick and the team have been nurturing them since last summer. So, our honeys this year each provide a unique ‘taste’ of their local areas – and we’ll never have another harvest exactly like it.

Throughout history, humans have valued honey not only as a sweet treat, but also for its healing powers. Depending on the type of honey, it can have significant medicinal properties – such as antibacterial activity, which is the ability to kill germs. Some honeys are even used as wound dressings to help healing. From watching the Kairos beekeepers in action, it is clear that learning beekeeping skills can also have a healing effect. Grace and Justin’s confidence and passion was wonderful to see and in these particularly challenging times, and helping to bring a little more sweetness into the world.