ADVERTISING slogans can pop into your head at the most opportune moments and turn out to be applicable to what you are talking about.
One of the most popular ones, used to advertise Sugar Puffs (now called Honey Monster Puffs) is spoken by the Honey Monsters who says; “It’s all about the honey, mummy.”
This is true when it comes to meeting Chris Harries, who has in 42 years built up Sedgemoor Honey Farm in Somerset to become one of the great tastes of the county.
Chris started beekeeping way back in 1975 with two hives in the garden.
His beekeeping empire has now swarmed to 300 hives with 60,000 bees spread across different farms in Somerset much to the delight of the many honey monsters in the county and up and down the country.
Sedgemoor Honey Farm is the largest beekeeper in Somerset and the largest honey packer as it distributes 12 tons of honey a year.
The farm’s honey is not only bought by shops in Somerset and sold at National Trust Properties, but it is used in Sheppy’s Cider, Granny Gothards Ice Cream and Brown Cow yoghurt.
It recently became the only Kosher producer of honey in the United Kingdom.
As you can see what started out as a spark from liking natural history for Chris, has grown into a booming business.
Chris said: “Keeping bees is not a six month hobby. We do not have a holiday in the spring/ summer and cannot take a two/ three week holiday in June. This is our busiest period.
“I enjoy working for myself and I enjoy the benefits of my efforts.
“I have to do all the preparations and get all the equipment ready by the end of March.
“This means I am ready to go come the spring.
“I have to go around to all the hives about once every two/three weeks.
“The bees will be busy and when you collect the honey you have to have enough equipment or you will lose the honey.
“You have to keep ahead of the bees and be ahead of the game.
“An old chap told me the only day you can be ahead of the bees is on Christmas Day.
“So I have to be right behind them.
“I have accumulated a lot of knowledge.
“I have taken exams and read a lot of books and journals about beekeeping.
“During the time I have been a beekeeper things have changed with diseases and treatments.
“There is a lot more research going on but there is nothing new in beekeeping.
“You have to look after the hive, make sure everything in healthy and you have to have a good queen.
“You also need to insure there is plenty of room for the bees to store their honey.”
Sedgemoor Honey Farms sells a variety of honey which includes runny honey, set honey, heather honey, borage honey, chunk honey, honey strip, honey crate and comb honey.
To produce the heather honey, Chris sends his bees to Exmoor where they feed on the heather to produce a honey which has a rich, deep taste which people enjoy.
Recalling the early days when he first started out as a beekeeper, Chris said: “When I first started I went into the County Stores in Taunton to sell the honey.
“I was asked how much I had, I told the manager 120lbs.
“After a few minutes he said he would take it.
“I asked him how much and he said all of it. We agreed a price and I have been supplying them for over 40 years.
“And supply them all year around.
“A lot of what we have achieved has been done by word of mouth.
“People come on holiday to Somerset buy a jar of honey for a neighbour and then they enjoy it and ring us up to find out where they can buy it where they live.
“We have had calls from Northumbria, Sheffield and Sunderland.”
To get the honey into the jars, Chris removes the honey from the trays, the wax is cut and then it is spun centrifugally and put into jars.
That is it- as nature intended and as the bees made it.
Which is great news for all you honey monsters out there in Somerset and in the UK.