Monday, July 18, 2016

Day 18 -- Osmotherley to Great Broughton, 10 miles

Di Swales, of Sherpa Van, has been booking accommodations for my walks in Britain for more than five years. She found rooms for me during My1200 Mile Summer in 2011 when I couldn’t, and she’s booked my rooms this year on the Dales Way and the Coast to Coast. So I was delighted to finally meet her in person at her B&B, 32 South End, in the North Yorkshire village of Osmotherley. She’s certainly the queen bee of accommodations.

Di Swales

Di’s husband, Trevor, has been making honey for 41 years. Actually, it’s the bees that make the honey, Trevor just steals it from them and packages it for consumers. Today he generously gave me a tour of his operation. It’s a one-man operation, but he’s got millions and millions of employees doing the real work.

Trevor Swales and some of his bee hives

Here’s my understanding of how it all works. Each of queen and her entourage live in the lower castle (my term, not his) – basically a wooden box. Trevor moves each castle close to flowering plants so the bees will be near the flowers he wants them to pollenate. Next week he’ll be moving the castles to the moors in order to produce heather honey. On top of the castle he stacks more wooden boxes, each containing racks of honeycombs. Over time, the bees will fill the combs with honey. In a good year, Trevor can get three harvests.

Honeycomb in rack

Harvesting the honey involves removing the upper boxes without disturbing the queen in her lower castle, spinning the racks in a centrifuge, and draining off the honey. The honey is filtered several times and placed in jars. It is very good – Di serves it at her B&B, and Trevor sells the rest.


Honey, before straining

I had never had a tour of a honey-making facility before, and by comparison, the rest of the day’s walk seemed pretty ordinary. Despite the beautiful weather, spectacular scenery and lovely footpath, my thoughts were on the toast and honey I’ll have with tomorrow’s breakfast.

But for those of you who may never have had a beekeeper’s tour, and may not be focused on tomorrow’s breakfast, I’ll post some pictures from the walk.