Discover the most delectable honeys produced by British bees and harness their health and healing properties.

Liquid gold and ambrosial food of the gods are just two of enticing bywords for honey. It’s not hard to understand why. Produced by bees using the nectar from flowering plants, the sweet stuff is not just delicious; it also boasts a myriad of health benefits – which is just the kind of rare good news we like to hear when it comes to getting our sweet hit.

Unprocessed honey offers a lower GI alternative to sugar, meaning its effects on blood sugar will be less significant, thus making it less likely to cause spikes and dips. Consuming local honey has been touted to alleviate allergies, while its antibacterial properties ensure that it also helps with wound healing; studies have found that chemical compounds such as flavonoids found within also have anti-viral and anti-inflammatory properties. And who hasn’t swallowed down a spoonful or two of the amber nectar when ailing with a cough or cold?

However, not all honey is created equal. If you want to tap into its health benefits, it is important that you opt for raw or unpasteurised jars of the golden good stuff (pasteurisation improves shelf-life but kills the beneficial yeast and enzymes found in raw honey). A ‘raw’ label indicates that the produce has been untreated and will therefore not only be tastier, but also contain live nutritional enzymes. ‘Organic’ is another label to look out for, to ensure that it has not come into contact with pesticides. And, whilst there are many exotic honey imports available on our shelves, do know that it is local honey that will be of most benefit to protect against allergies.

We present some of our favourite British honey producers. After all, is there any nicer way to start the day than with good quality, full fat Greek yogurt and a drizzle of liquid gold?

The Hive Honey Shop

This Clapham institution was established in 1992 by the shop’s head beekeeper, James, who has been an apiarist since he was five years old. He is the third generation of beekeepers in his family (they have been at it since 1924) and his depth of knowledge is remarkable. The honey he sells at his shop and online is produced by his own hives all around the country. As he explains, ‘As a bee farmer I look after all my own beehives at several apiary sites around the country. I take a trailer load of beehives to specific floral areas which I know will yield a certain type of honey. In this way I am able to offer a wide variety of limited single-floral honeys, for example sweet chestnut, heather, linden blossom, hawthorn etc.’ As well as delicious honey – we recommend the hyper local Wandsworth variety (£14.95) – he also sells beeswax candles, vintage honeypots, beekeeping books, equipment for fellow apiarists, and cosmetic and health products. His is a world to get lost in and finally emerge happier and healthier for being in the presence of such utter dedication. Explore the range here.

Black Bee Honey

Founders of Black Bee Honey, Paul and Chris met twenty years ago as co-workers in a London office. They bonded over their passion for beekeeping and a shared irritation at the mediocre products, usually a blend of the cheapest EU and non-EU honeys, being offered to consumers in our supermarkets. As hobbyists, they kept hives on London rooftops, caring for over a million bees in the process. But eventually it wasn’t enough; they wanted to offer something more. Named after the native British honeybee, The Black Bee is at once a nod to the company’s dedication to keeping things local and an homage to these special creatures whose loss of habitat has now sees them on the verge of extinction. Based in Somerset, they produce their own honey, as well as working with select UK-based producers. We love the British Autumn and Seaside Twin Pack, which you can buy in a gift box or not. Explore the range here.

Local Honey Man

Curtis Thompson left his job as an investment banker in the City to instead channel his energies and passion into bees. His exceptional products come from the hives he keeps in London and Essex, which feed on a diverse range of plants, from lavender to pear to clover. Though it may seem counter-intuitive, cities are an excellent place for bees since there is such a diversity of plant life for them to feed on. Who wouldn’t be delighted with this hamper gift set (£49.99), which includes two honeys, propolis tincture, a beeswax candle, a honey dipper and 125g pollen? Do also check out his honey subscription service: a brilliant present for a gourmand or health fanatic. Explore the range here.

London Honey Co

Specialising in raw honey gathered from Essex, London, Oxfordshire and Shropshire, London Honey Co’s products are very lightly filtered but still retain their natural properties. There are some truly delicious options available, many of which can be bought in pairs: Oxfordshire and Shropshire creamed (£13); ling heather and Shropshire creamed (£15); and ginger and turmeric-infused (£16.75), are just some of the exceptional duos on offer. Do you harbour ambitions of becoming a beekeeper yourself? Why not enrol on one of its online Beekeeping For Beginners courses for just £45? Explore the range here.

Just Bee

Launched in 2014, Just Bee started out with two concurrent aims: ‘to create exciting and healthy products using honey; and an ongoing mission to help Save the Bees.’ Founded by beekeeper Joe whose family has a long history of beekeeping, in 2017 he got an offer of investment from Dragons Den’s Peter Jones for his Just Bee flavoured water – an offer which he ultimately did not take. In 2019, he began to develop Vitamin Honey, and used the lockdowns to launch the range. Now you can buy Joe’s honey in various different permutations. We’d plump for the lemon and ginger vitamin honey multi-pack (£17.49), which promises daily immune support and cold and flu relief, plus you get a packet of bee-saving seeds with every order. Win-win. Explore the range here.

Harcourt Honey

Harcourt Honey (£8.95) hails from the Harcourt Arboretum in Oxfordshire, which is operated under the auspices of The Oxford Botanic Garden. Its wealth of diverse plants is, then, exceptional. This honey is from the bees that forage in the arboretum and is unrefined and unfiltered. It is also delicious. Buy it here, along with other products from the botanic gardens.

By Nancy Alsop
January 2022

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Nancy Alsop


Nancy is a magpie for the best in design and culture.