Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from all of us at Cilgwenyn Bee Farm
9 December 2021
It only seems like a few weeks ago we wrote last years Christmas newsletter. And what a year it has been! From the ups and downs of dealing with Covid-19 which has permeated every part of life for everyone we are finally, I hope, slowly getting through the other side.
For us as beekeepers we have fulfilled a long journey in growing our business from a single variety to now having 5 different regional variations on offer. As beekeepers we know it, but seeing and hearing from customers that have been amazed how the slight difference in where bees are foraging can create such wonderful and different flavours has been an absolute pleasure.
We have said many times, when eating raw, unadulterated honey that we are literally eating a sweet substance that has come from flowering plants. The bees do not make a sugar syrup, they just collect the sweet nectar that our natural environment provides us – they just take a lot of the moisture out creating wonderful honey. With each geographic location and altitude brings new and wonderful flavours. No adulteration by mixing honey with sugar syrup…we leave that to other suppliers!
And boy have the bees work been recognised. As well as some coverage on national TV (on James Martin’s Saturday Morning and Love Your Weekend with Alan Titchmarsh), this year for us has been THE awards year. For all our work we won the Rising Sustainability Star from Speciality & Fine Food at Olympia in London which was fantastic, the first ever recipient and voted for by you and industry judges – and we won by a huge margin. This work recognised us for producing a complete carbon neutral honey amongst many other pillars of sustainability.
Three of our honey varieties were also finalists with the Great British Food Awards, with one, our Carmarthenshire Meadow Wildflowers Honey winning the Highly Commended prize. And to top it off were we won the Regional Producer category for Wales.
Not taking away any of those achievements, we also won 5 stars with the Great Taste Awards. These are seen pretty much as the ‘Oscars’ of the fine food world, competing alongside producers from around the world and producers from artisan small cottage industry experts like us to large fine food manufacturers including M&S. Our Cambrian Mountains Heather Honey won a 1*, which is an achievement in its own right with only 26 1*given out in the whole of the UK to honey producers. But, amazingly and very proudly, our Gower Saltmarsh Wildflower Honey AND our Brecon Beacons Uplands Wildflower Honey had an incredible 2* each. To put it into context, only 10 were given out for honey from the UK and no other producer had this in Wales, and we had 20% of them!
So we proudly say we have the best honey in Wales!...might as well start the Twitter argument. It must be remembered that the Great Taste Awards are judged on that basic principle, its taste. The judges taste the honey blind, no jars are seen, no names are known, no personalities or slick marketing, just based on its taste. And our bees have done very very well!
We are so proud of this that we have included as one of our gift packs 'The 2021 Great Taste Awards Selection Gift Set', all new for 2021.
All this work has kept us ridiculously busy, from creating a new Wildflower Seeds Pack that includes only wildflowers to getting our new varieties out there (that has taken a few years to get together). And as always, we have to be grateful to nature and especially the bees. Their work was made a little easier this year, after a bit of a stormy start to spring where nature decided not to produce much nectar in June. Another year thankfully where we did not need to feed our bees artificially by taking too much honey, leaving more than enough for them, and will continue on this path of no feeding with sugar which we have done since 2016. We see no justification in taking all the honey, only to replace it with sugar that has a huge environmental impact and has no trace vitamins or minerals which bees rely on to remain healthy and survive. With us, it’s the real thing – and you can taste the difference.
So once again, thank you to all of you who have supported us this year. We couldn’t have done it without you. We wish all of you the very best this Christmas, and let 2022 be a good one!