Kingston University Biodiversity Action Group

20-04-2015: Honeyed results from the first Penrhyn Road Honey tasting.

The signs of a good honey tasting
We are proudly doing our bit to help bees at Kingston University - we have our own beehive at Kingston Hill maintained by dedicated staff and volunteers throughout the year. We warmly welcome new volunteers to get suited up as beekeeping assistants and were pleased to sign a few more eager people up at this event.

We have run our honey tastings at Kingston Hill for the last two years, but this year we wanted to bring the taste of honey to our other sites. For 2015 we chose Penrhyn Road as our new location.

Apart from the small matter of me mistiming the event for the middle of reading week! Plenty of people were still around to try the honey and undertake an impartial taste test.
The first taster of the afternoon
Teams came from Knights Park LRC to join in with the tasting
Everyone had to have a couple of tastes to remember what the first honey they tasted was like before voting

Voting for favourites

A sweet beak from revision before getting back to the grind stone. 
Last year a few people had commented on the crystallised honey, to make it an even playing field the sealed jars were slowly warmed up a bowl of warm water to reverse the crystallisation process (a natural process rather than the honey going off). 
If you want to make your honey runny again, you should make sure that the lid of the jar is opened and the water is just below the opening of the jar – If sealed you risk the jar cracking – I was lucky!
We had folk turning up especially for the Honey tasting – the most dedicated team, one of whom was training to look after bees, came the furthest after getting a little lost when they made their way to Kingston Hill before finding us at Penrhyn Road! But they did get to see the bees :)

Travelling far for a taste of honey
Clive dropped by the Honey tasting – his wife used to work at Penrhyn Road as a senior lecture and he told some great stories of their attempts to hive a wild colony of bees who were residing high up on a buildings at Kingston Hill, back when the campus was called Gypsy Hill. He even brought along one of his Jar’s which we tried a little of, but as it was part way through the tasting, we are holding it back for in the next tasting. 
Clive telling us stories about Kingston's beekeeping history and explaining about differences in honey 
Many of you asked where you could buy local Honey.  At KU we don’t produce enough honey to sell; instead jars are given to the bee volunteers as a thank you for helping with the care of the bees. 
Any remaining jars are used for educational events such as the Honey tastings where we promote the project and let people know what they could do to help bees at home. 

If you are interested in buying local honey try:
  • Visiting Kingston Market, as you can get stalls that pop up every now and then which sell local honey.
  • You can also approach the Kingston Beekeepers Association Directly 
  • Or if you are looking for an event to attend, why not try the Surrey County Show where you will be able to find local honey producers duking it out with the bigger commercial enterprises :) 
If you are interested in volunteering with the bees at Kingston Hill, or, as well can sometimes have a waiting list, volunteering with the local bee keepers - email either Rita White (the volunteer beekeeper at Kingston hill) or contact Kingston Beekeepers Association to see if you can volunteer with any of their members.

The results of the taste test...
Comments from one of the winning honeys

Comments from another winning honey
We had some lovely comments on the tasting, what struck me were the complete variations we had for the same honey with some saying it was too sweet, while others disagreed!  

We asked people to vote for their favourite honey in the blind taste testing; in joint first place was…drum roll – Kingston Uni!!!

Both of our honey’s scored well but for different reasons. The 2013 honey had a stronger flavoured honey and the 2014 honey scoring well for its mild and delicate flavour!

Honey from the same hive(s) can change flavour year to year depending on what blossoms are foraged by the bees. Variations in weather, plant abundance, and species dominance can be reflected in the taste of the honey. 

The honey that came in in second place was Simply Pure – by the Mortimer’s Ditton Bees (Graham Mortimer).
Comments for Graham's honey
And the remaining closely scoring delicious honeys coming from: Riverside Honey – Martin Kenny which reminded one taster of their childhood honey and Surrey Honey - Derek Jones – which was commented as having a nice finish when tasted.

Next year we’ll have a choice of running the tasting either back at Kingston Hill, or possibly at one of our other campuses – if you particularly want your campus to host the tasting – vote below to influence the location!!
We could be coming to a campus near you!

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