Honey production in Angus, Scotland
A bittersweet tale of bee-keeping across the glens and the coast
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.