MEET THE LONDON HONEY COMPANY TEAM: GEORGE CHELTON
We had a chat with our beekeeper George on his way back from cropping honey on the coast about wanting to climb cliffs in Nepal to why he loves our Ling Heather honey so much.
George, how did you get into beekeeping?
My grandparents were beekeepers and I am Steve’s nephew so I was around bees from a young age. I think my first visit to a hive was with Steve when I was 4 years old and he brought me this tiny beekeeper suit. I wore that suit to every world book day after that! I’ve always had a massive interest in it and have being doing it on the side for quite some time, but this year I moved to London and committed to becoming a full time beekeeper and this is my first full season out with the guys at London Honey Co. and I'm loving it.
When it comes to British honey it's definitely the Ling Heather. I am from Shropshire so it tastes like home, it becomes a whole experience and it's just an incredible strong and complex honey. Me and Steve like to say that it's the queen of British honey. As for international ones, I'm really into this Spanish citrus lemon blossom honey. It's super tangy and light. And it came in this massive barrel that I took home to use as a planter in my garden. I made sure to scrape the bottom clean first! Very tasty!
What's a normal day like for you?
So Jack takes care of most of the city central hives and I usually drive round the countrysides. I love being on the road! I usually get up at 5am, sometimes I’ll pick up Steve on the way and we’ll listen to Tweet of the Day on Radio 4 and hit the road. One day we’ll be up in Shropshire, another day in Dungeness in Kent or the Cotswolds in Oxfordshire, or even in Harrow - cropping honey. We really do move bees around all across the country. I tend to move hives when it gets a bit colder in the evenings, but these days we’re mostly cropping honey. When all the crops are in for the year I’ll be in the warehouse extracting honey and bottling. It’s really nice to be a part of all the steps of the process.
Where else in the world would you like to explore beekeeping?
In terms of knowledge, and for what I’m hoping for my future in beekeeping and apply into what we do here in the UK, I really want to go to New Zealand. The scale of beekeeping and bee farming in New Zealand is incredible. I would also love to watch beekeepers in Zambia harvest from bark hives up in the trees in the rainforest. The kit they use is often in harmony with nature and the bees and very simple and they don’t wear any protective wear and it feels quite natural. I would also love to see the wild honey hunters in Nepal. They hoist each other up the tall cliffs in the Himalayan foothills. It’s quite something.