Honey production in Angus, Scotland

A bittersweet tale of bee-keeping across the glens and the coast

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Honey production in Angus

Though perfect landscape for bee-keeping, Angus hasn't escaped the pests and diseases decimating bee communities around the UK, as Hannah Ewan find out

With heather filled glens and a coast lined with oil seed rape, Angus is a hotspot for honey production. Two companies, Honeyhill Bee Farm in Montrose and Scarlett’s Scotland from Perthshire, are battling the mites and pesticides that have decimated bee populations in recent years to keep the region buzzing.

Honeyhill’s Ranald McBay keeps 700 hives along the coast during spring, for the blossom from plane trees, wild flowers and oil seed rape. In July, they’re driven to Glen Esk for the heather moors.

Despite each hive housing between 20-30,000 bees, output is less reliable than when his grandfather started the business, he says. 'We could collect tonnes, it could be pounds. It’s a very, very risky business.'

For some more than others – the business passed straight to McBay, after his father’s bee-sting allergy landed him in hospital.

Honeyhill Bee Farm

St Cyrus, Montrose, Angus, DD10 0LG

The Honeyhill set clover honey is crying out to be thickly spread on top of freshly made bread and butter, or to be mixed with a wee dram of whisky, a dash of lemon and some hot water for the perfect hot toddy. The heather honey, which, like the clover…

Scarletts (Scotland)

Stripside of Longleys, Meigle, Perth and Kinross, PH12 8QX

Scarletts was originally established as a commercial beekeeping business, but in 2003 it moved into honey production and now operates more than 1,000 hives across Angus, Fife and Perthshire, making it one of the largest honey producers in the country. A…

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