You might already be aware of our love of honey here at Gloucester Services. If you’ve visited our Southbound motorway service area you may have seen our bee mural by wonderful local artist Stephanie Cole. The mural celebrates our love of honey which has grown ever since our very own beehive was installed at our services back in the summer of 2014. The mural was created to celebrate the visit of HRH Prince of Wales, who received the very first jar of our honey from our very own hive!
In Gloucestershire we’re lucky to be surrounded by countryside perfectly suited to honey production. The area’s soil is rich, resulting in abundant flora, fauna and nectar. Honey is one of nature’s original super foods. Used in medicine for thousands of years, it is recognised to be a powerful antioxidant, containing antibacterial and antifungal properties. It naturally contains a range of nutrients, vitamins and minerals and in its raw state it’s packed with enzymes which are vital in maintaining a healthy digestive system. It makes a fantastic alternative to heavily processed sugar and research has shown that raw honey doesn’t cause blood sugar to spike allowing a much healthier gradual increase.
However, many of the benefits of honey can be lost during heavy processing methods. The healthy enzymes for instance are broken down when the honey is heated or strongly filtered during processing. Raw honey is honey in its most natural form. It is processed very gently before reaching the consumer so all the natural health-giving properties are kept right in the jar.
One of our favourite honey producers are V & L Honeymakers. The husband and wife team, Viktor and Lucy run over 700 colonies of bees around the Oxfordshire, Gloucestershire and Warwickshire countryside. Every year their honey is completely unique. Their biggest set of colonies is situated on Brakelands Farm, North Oxfordshire, where the farmer grows a wide range of crops for the bees to collect from. Viktor and Lucy extract and bottle all their honey themselves; carefully ensuring the process maintains the honey’s natural goodness. They don’t homogenize, or use pressure filters or add any antibiotics or additives, resulting in a truly natural product.
Their Blue Borage Honey expands further on the health giving properties of honey. Borage, noted for its uplifting effects, was named ‘the plant that cheers’ (euphrosynum) by the Romans. This is partly due to the stimulant effect of the plant, which produces the adrenaline hormone. V & L Honeymakers say,
“It’s one of the best honeys you can hope to find, it has many uses. It’s perfect in drinks of any kind. Experiment with Blue Borage Honey and your favourite cheese or drizzle it over fresh strawberries, or pistachio ice cream.”
Another of our favourites is the Cotswold Creamed Honey. Creaming refers to the technique of thickening the product; there’s no cream added. The texture is created by blending different types of honey and then whipping the mix over a period of several days to create its smoothness. Unlike liquid honey, creamed honey doesn’t drip and spreads like butter at ordinary room temperature.
At Gloucester Services you’ll find a huge variety of honey in our Farmshop.