‘Sweet words are like honey, a little may refresh, but too much gluts the stomach” – Anne Bradstreet (1612 – 1672) English-American writer.

If you were to breakfast at the Lancaster London Hotel, a little bit of honey is all that you might expect to be allowed to pour onto your porridge, not because the chef fears for your digestion, but because at the moment there is very little precious honey available,.

For the honey served here is being produced from the bee colonies housed in hives on the roof of the hotel.

To celebrate the harvesting of the pale gold nectar (how satisfying to use this phrase accurately for once), I was invited to a honey-tasting last week to sample this, and other locally sourced produce at an event hosted by the 3 beekeeping staff members, Jo Hemesley, David McAuley and Peter Pearton.

By comparison, there were 4 other non-blended honeys, Wandsworth Floral, Maida Vale, Regent’s Park and Surrey.

Since I had brought the Maida Vale honey along to the tasting myself, as I am a beekeeper with 4 hives in my communal gardens, I was particularly interested to taste the Lancaster London’s and to compare it with my own.

All non-blended honey varies enormously, even from the same hive, as the lower frames will be filled with nectar taken by the bees at the start of the season (cherry blossom, jasmine blossom and crocuses, in my case) and the upper combs will have been made from more late flowering tree based pollens like sycamore and horse-chestnut and also the grass pollens from clover.

In the case of the Lancaster London, there must be such a massive diversity of pollen and nectar for the bees to forage for, with Hyde Park being right next to the Hotel (it is believed that bees forage up to 3 miles from the colony).

This being so, I was surprised that all three London honeys were quite similar in both colour and flavour, with only the Surrey honey noticeably different with a slightly smoky finish which was very pleasant.

Many people will have heard of the problems beekeepers are facing. It is always an anxious time, as we head into winter, hoping that our precious charges make it through to the early spring.

As can be seen from the photographs, the hives are of excellent quality and are sensibly sited in the lee of the prevailing wind above the car park next to the main tower of the hotel.

If the bee colonies continue to thrive and prosper then I would expect the restaurant to have a plentiful supply of home-produced honey, which will be the envy of many. Sweet words!

Graham Young