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Aspall Cyder - Cider and Vinegar

Another sweet treat from our orchards

14th May 2014

Cyder House

I recently wrote about the really important role that bees and other insects play in pollinating the trees in our orchards. We’re fortunate that keeping bees has honey as a fantastic by-product, which as well as being totally delicious, has been used for its health benefits for thousands of years.

The healing properties of honey have been longer established even longer than the 2 ½ thousand years that vinegar has (see my previous blog about taking  a spoonful of cyder vinegar a day). I love the fact that when they opened Tutankhamen’s tomb, they found honey, that whilst solid was still edible. It never goes off. If you’re going for the health benefits, Manuka is the way to go. It is even used to infuse post operation bandages such is its capability for sterilising. It is a wonder – and mixed with cyder vinegar it really is the dream team combo for a healthy start to the day.

It’s important to remember though that sometimes the bees need the honey more than we do if they’re to perform their pollinating duty.

It’s important to remember though that sometimes the bees need the honey more than we do if they’re to perform their pollinating duty.

Keeping bees at Aspall

Our current bee-keeper of 10 years – and at 80, a bee-keeper for much of his life – puts much of critical hive collapse down to greed and general bad bee-keeping. Two years back, after we had that terribly wet summer and a brutally cold winter, he took no honey at all from the bees as he didn’t think they could handle any loss. I wonder how many other keepers followed the same philosophy, but we lost no hives at Aspall.

For the past 20 years we have had external, albeit local bee-keepers tending to our bees. Previously, we managed them ourselves, and the latest family member to do so was Mum. She only stopped because all 12 of her hives were stolen one night. The police believed they were stolen to order by a gang, and were probably shipped out of the county within hours - that’s not a car crash you really want to be involved in! Sadly, it meant that Mum had to give up as the hives needed replacing very quickly, so we've had external keepers ever since.

I remember as a boy Mum bringing the combs in and extracting the honey. It’s not a job you should ever take your eye off though, as whilst it runs slow, it also runs quiet, and more than once was the occasion when tired of waiting for a pot to fill, another task was undertaken, and so the honey quietly overflowed and ran over the pantry floor! Delicious though, and extremely good for you.