An Inspector Calls

We sell our honey to a local retail outlet, at craft and food fairs as well as to local people who want to buy honey direct from the producer.

To process and then sell or give away honey, beekeepers like us should be registered with and inspected by the local authority Environmental Health & Trading Standards department to ensure that we comply with the Food Hygiene Regulations.
We are registered with our local authority and are included on the national Food Hygiene Rating Scheme.

Last week we had our inspection visit from an environmental health officer. Although the regulations cover anyone who prepares, cooks, handles, or sells food, she told us that as we just process a single food item, our inspection would be very straightforward which indeed it was.

She looked at the steps we take to extract and process our honey; as an aide memoire we had prepared a summary of the steps we take when extracting our honey, a copy of which she took away for her records.

She understood that we work in a domestic setting so looked at the room where we primarily work, in our case, our kitchen; she looked at our extractor, and where and how this is stored as well as our honey buckets.

Her focus was that these steps were hygienic, legally compliant and avoided any possibility of cross contamination.

She looked at the PPE we wear when working with honey, and our hygiene practices.
She saw our honey jar labels and kept a sample for her records. All in all, it was a simple, easy process and for us an interesting, educative, and successful visit. Since meeting with her, we have received a report of her visit. We asked if she would send us information we could pass onto other beekeepers, and she has kindly sent us the following links.

Some of this information beekeepers should already be aware of but other ones are of more general interest.

Running a food business
Starting a food business
Food business registration
Honey Authenticity
Honey Labelling Guide
Honey Labelling
The Honey (England) Regulations 2015

A word of warning

Although the system of inspection itself is simple, leave yourself plenty of time to get this completed. Covid has introduced a further time delay, and so the visit may take time to get done.

However, be aware that the consequences of not registering is that legally a beekeeper shouldn’t regularly sell or give away honey and that if you breach this you could face a financial penalty or in extremis, a 2 year prison sentence.

Penny & Paul Twibill

We come second…

Jo (top left) , Stuart (top right) & Marie (bottom left)

At the BBKA online bee quiz held as part of the online Spring Convention, the Club team of Stuart, Jo and Marie came second to Warwick and Leamington beating North Shropshire into 3rd place. Well done team, an excellent effort.

Geoff gets a Mystery Swarm…

On Sunday May 16th, on a day of light rain with clear intervals and a few minutes after leaving to walk the short distance home, Jannice who had been trimming my beard phoned to report a swarm on the outside of my boundary fence, which runs alongside the pavement of a side road.

Showing considerable initiative, she also took a photograph of the swarm.

Being helpless in such a situation, I rang Stuart who arrived in rapid time and quickly brushed the swarm into a nucleus box and was away, even declining the offer of a beer, leaving me to ponder on the sequence of events.

The following morning at 7.30 a.m. the four colonies in the back garden were checked by Stuart and pronounced to be queen right, so they weren’t the culprits.

Jannice would claim that there was no swarm on the fence when she walked past the first time, when the usual light rain had come to an end. Thirty five minutes later, the swarm was on the fence and one hour later, the rain was teeming down.

There are no beekeepers in the vicinity and one would not expect bees to be swarming within the weather pattern at that time. A mystery indeed.

One can only speculate what might have been the possible outcome when children and mothers would have been within touching distance of the of the swarm when walking to Primary school the following morning…

Geoff Hopkinson BEM NDB

My ‘No Mow May’ Lawn

You ‘may’ recall that in the last Newsletter we asked you not to mow your lawn during May 2021 to celebrate World Bee Day which fell on May 20th 2021.

Not mowing your lawn allows a diversity of wild flowers to grow, like dandelion and white clover.

This benefits all pollinating insects including honey bees who gather the nectar and pollen.

Below you can see how some of our club members lawns looked when they were not
mowed for a month or probably longer in most cases as the weather was so cold
and wet at the time.

The top row shows Alan’s, Stuart’s and Jo’s lawns after weeks of being left to their own devices.

Stuart finally resorted to cutting paths in the grass so he could get around his garden.
The photograph at the bottom of the page shows an area of Kate and Charles’ garden that was left to grow as it liked. I think that you will agree that it looks very pretty and not at all like some of the others. Have you got a picture of your lawn to show us?