My grandparents kept beehives in the orchard at Huntley, from when they arrived here after their honeymoon in 1928 until the late 60s and I remember dipping spoons into square combs of honey, served from a specially designed holder, for afternoon tea with all the cousins, way back in the day! We haven’t had any bees here since then, so I was absolutely delighted when Evan Mackay of Oakfield Honey @oakfield_honey chose Huntley as a new location for some of his hives, filled with native Irish honey bees (apis mellifera mellifera).
In the early spring this year, he fenced off a corner of the paddock, set up stands and then arrived with his very funky-coloured hives. It’s been a fascinating learning curve with Evan and, although it’s been a very challenging year for bees everywhere, ours have managed to produce a limited amount of really delicious honey – the first very small batch tasted of hawthorn flowers and was really delicate.
Evan is a relatively new beekeeper, but no less passionate or attentive to his hives than the old-timers. He’s had his disappointments, like other beekeepers this year, mainly due to the dire weather, but the hives are healthy and our friends produced some really yummy honey. There’s so much scope for them here, all through the year, with masses of fruit blossom in the spring, roses and verbena still going strong and now ivy, just starting to flower. Although there’s no honey left this year, watch this space and check out our Instagram pages, @hiddenhuntleybelfast and @oakfield_honey, as we’re looking forward to a much better year for our bees in 2024.
Hidden Huntley is a private, blank canvas venue, open all year round for outdoor, daytime events, so please get in touch if you’d like to come and check it out.
This photograph is of an original entry from my Grandmother’s journal telling the story of the arrival of beehives at Huntley in 1928.