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Introducing... EXTRAORDINARY BORAGE

Introducing... EXTRAORDINARY BORAGE

Borage might sound humble but really, it's a miracle crop. Grown almost exclusively for the pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries, for use in creams to medicines, its vast fields of brilliant blue down in Essex are as stunning as any Provencal lavender field. It's also capable of replenishing its nectar as fast as every two minutes. That means, as fast as a bee drains the flower or nectar, it gets refilled.

As such, there was no question that it would star in the second in our series of our stunning short films, which we're thrilled to be unveiling now.

To whet your appetite for the film, we sat down for a quick chat with George, Steve's nephew, and the brains behind our CBD development process. You'll also meet George in the film, discussing what it means to be a bee farmer and what is so special to him about borage.

 

Quick Cuts with Beekeeper, George Chelton:

 

Any notes from this year's borage harvest? 

This year has been our biggest crop ever! We've had 120 hives out on the fields, 6 boxes to a hive, harvesting sensational comb in particular. Borage comb is one of the best lookers and keepers out there, as it doesn't crystallise, and we've not only had quantity but also quality. Grade A comb to us means comb that is entirely filled—so each cell is full of honey and 'capped' with a little piece of wax which keeps the honey sealed. When we get an incomplete comb, then we'll use that to extract the liquid honey, which becomes the base of our CBD honey, as well as fills our pure Borage jars. 


Despite 2021 throwing all the bad weather at you? 

Yes—this year everything has been delayed by several weeks, for example we're only just now finishing up the heather harvest on the moors and it's nearly October. For each crop, I think there was a point where we wondered if it was ever going to happen, and then when it did, it delivered in buckets. 


What did you least expect about becoming a beekeeper? 

In particular, how climate changes would affect different geographic regions and nectar sources around the UK. We're seeing much more extremes of microclimate—with Kent often too cold and barren of wildflowers now in Spring to give us the crops we remember in the past, while the North West and Oxfordshire have become far more abundant than previously. We're having to react to this and adapt our strategies, so next year, we'll be considering taking a higher number of our hives up north.


It all looks so beautiful—but what are the challenges to beekeeping? 

Beekeeping is so reactive—we're essentially running an agricultural business from a London HQ, but need to be constantly in tune with what's in flower, what's just about to flower, in multiple different places at once. I'll do site trips not to check on bees, but to check on crops and wildflowers. For example, there's a 7-10 day window to catch the London Harrow lime trees. If we're not got our hives ready to go on the first day that they flower, then we miss the whole crop. 

 

Next article SLOW & SUSTAINABLE BEEKEEPING: OUR VISION