McBride’s Bees is a small independent bee farm nestled among the trees, fields and hedgerows of Co. Monaghan. They run a handful of small apiaries and offer high-quality Raw Irish honey. Their bees collect honey from a wide variety of flora including sycamore, hawthorn and dandelion during Spring and blackberry and clover during the Summer. These varieties of flowers give an authentic taste of the wild Irish countryside, full of natural anti-bacterial and anti-microbial goodness.
At McBride’s Bees, they use only native Irish honeybees (apis milifera milifera), positively contributing to the conservation of this threatened native species. Their native Irish honeybees are well adapted to thrive in our Irish conditions. They nurture their bees using sustainable and ethical beekeeping practices which have been perfected over the last 18 years. They ensure only surplus honey is taken off, always assuring the bees enough so they don’t need to artificially feed, thus guaranteeing my honey is 100% natural raw honey collected by the bees.
Selective breeding has allowed them to avoid using any treatments (chemical or other) or antibiotics within any of my hives. McBride’s Bees is committed to elevating the profile of Irish Honeybees and contributing to the environment.
Their native Irish bees collect nectar from many different flowers and produce pure raw honey. The flavour of each honey tends to differ slightly each year even differing between hives depending on the given season and the variety of flowers the bees forage on. Next, the honey is extracted from the honeycomb, coarsely filtered, and bottled by hand in small batches using traditional methods. This craft process ensures the honey retains all its natural goodness and maintains its superior quality and distinct flavour just as the bees and nature intended. Their ethical and sustainable beekeeping methods ensure the uniqueness of their product guaranteeing that each jar is exquisite, honey truly fit for a queen.
If you would like to support bees the best way is to purchase locally produced honey. An ethical beekeeper will only use the excess honey produced by the colony.
Why does honey crystallize?
The processes which McBrides use to obtain the honey from the honeycombs and into the jar is relatively simple. Once the honey is extracted it is gently heated to 38⁰C to allow it to filter easily without damaging the honey, it is then left for between 24 – 48 hours to settle and then poured into the jars. 38⁰C occurs naturally within the hive and gives the customer the convenience of raw runny honey in a jar with the same quality as in the honeycomb. The drawback is that less processed and coarsely filtered honey is more prone to crystallization.
Honey produced on a commercial scale is typically heated to a higher temperature so it can be pressure filtered through very fine filters. This overheating will destroy the natural enzymes and yeasts within the honey and the fine filtering will remove all wax and pollen particles from the honey. At this point, the ‘honey’ is essentially dead but it leaves a perfectly clear product that will not crystallize easily. This is not a criticism of the commercial producers as they are only doing these processes to supply the huge public demand for runny honey. In my opinion, this honey is only a shadow of the original product before these processes.
Crystallized honey is perfectly safe to eat and demonstrates the quality of the product. Another way the beekeeper can deal with crystallization is by controlling the crystallization process and turning the runny honey into softset/creamed honey. A butter-like consistency is achieved by gently stirring the raw honey as it starts to crystallise. The end product is a luxurious creamy smooth honey with the same nutritional benefits as raw runny honey.
Why do McBrides not treat their bees?
They are cautious of putting any type of chemical, anti-biotic or organic acids into the hive as this has a negative effect on the health of the colony over time and could potentially end up with traces of these in the honey. Beeswax is an oily substance and absorbs chemicals easily, this build-up of chemicals over time can even cause queen and drone infertility while also shortening the worker bees life. They try to selectively breed from their most hardy stocks of bees so that they never need to treat their bees. Chemicals are a short-term solution but breeding resistance lasts and these genetics are shared throughout the apiary.
Why do they not artificially feed their bees?
McBrides strongly believe in ethical farming practices and therefore leaves the bees an adequate amount of their own honey to sustain the hive throughout the year and only take off any surplus. They could take off most of their honey harvest and artificially feed them sugar syrup or candy but they feel if this was as good, they would not prize honey so highly and eat sugar syrup ourselves. The best food for healthy strong bees is their own honey and pollen which they have worked hard collecting.
Why buy McBrides Honey?
If you would like to support bees the best way is to purchase locally produced honey. McBrides feel their honey is fairly priced for the level of quality they are offering. Their ethical and sustainable beekeeping methods, ensure the uniqueness of their product, guaranteeing that every product produced is exquisite.