Hive & Keeper curates collections of limited edition British raw honeys illustrating their rich diversity. Each honey is a snapshot in time of our bees, landscape and weather.
Founded by Emily Abbott who took up beekeeping a few years ago: ‘I got so much more out of it than I bargained for: my eyes are now wide open to the natural world around me; reading the weather, or looking for the first signs of each season arriving or fading.
Here, Emily talks to us at House of Coco and tells us more…
When did you launch the brand and what was the reason behind it?
I took up beekeeping because I wanted to study bees and watch them as they went about their business in the hive. Honey wasn’t on my mind – or at least it wasn’t until one year when I was lucky enough to have a honey harvest from my two hives. I keep my bees in my back garden, a small suburban garden in SW London which, despite both hives being close to each other, produced two totally different honeys. I was absolutely amazed! I’d assumed that being in the same area would mean the colonies produced the same honey, but it doesn’t. The bees are looking for different types of pollen and nectar depending on the needs of their colony, they’re also working incredibly hard with over a million visits to flowers going into a single jar of honey! The combination of these millions of visits and the colony’s needs are impossible to replicate, so every honey really is unique and a snapshot of the flowers, weather and colony’s needs at the time it was made. This was such an exciting discovery to make in my back garden and was the inspiration behind Hive & Keeper, born 2 years ago.
Each year I travel around the UK visiting other beekeepers, talking bees and tasting honey. The honey I buy is produced by beekeepers who practice good bee husbandry with every honey specific to a single apiary and harvest so it’s provenance and unique flavour is preserved. We keep it as the bees made it – no blending, or pasteurising it’s just spun from the hive, run through a sieve and jarred. Every jar of Hive & Keeper honey has the name of the keeper, the hive location and the honey’s taste on the label.
What’s your background?
I live in London with my two children, both away at university. Beekeeping has been my hobby for over 5 years and I’ve loved it as it’s taken me off my usual daily path of commuting into London and my old job at a market research agency. Beekeeping has introduced me to new people of all ages, backgrounds and interests and to bees kept on allotments, wasteland and gardens across the capital.
How many people are involved in the company and what are their roles?
Just me, with help from friends and family
If you could start over with the business, would you do anything differently?
It still feels too early to say, but I suspect it’ll be don’t drop the ball with your social media presence. Time will tell!
What is the hardest challenge you have faced since you started the company?
Juggling family, friends, home, work, beekeeping, and the adventure of setting up a new business
Tell us one fact about you that people wouldn’t know?
I had a TV series on Discovery Home & Health with my friend Catherine called ‘Single Mum’s SOS with Kate & Emily’, we also wrote a book about single parenting and launched it at Speakers’ Corner, Hyde Park, London. My legs were shaking so much that I’m not at all sure how I managed to stay upright on top of the step ladder!
2017 is here, where do you plan on taking the brand?
I look forward to bringing the beekeepers’ stories and their raw honeys to more and more people through our Honey Club subscriptions so they can have the fun of discovering the variety of British beekeepers, bees and honeys with me.
To date, what has been the highlight since launching?
It has to be www.notonthehighstreet.com and the National Trust being so enthusiastic about Hive & Keeper – there really is nothing better than having someone who isn’t involved in your business raving about it. I’m fired up and so excited about Hive & Keeper’s future!
Which city do you feel most at home in, London, Paris or New York?
It must be London; me, my children and bees are Londoners born and bred!
Three beauty products you can’t leave the house without?
Lipstick, scent and hair brush
Having confidence and a sense of fun, reflecting your love of life
Best thing about London to you?
Meandering homewards after an evening out through Soho and the back streets around St James and Shepherds Market, Piccadilly. I love how London feels as if it’s been given back to you at night when the workers, shoppers and daily traffic have gone. I love the atmosphere, people watching and the lights (particularly good in Old Bond Street at Christmas).
Statement shoe or statement bag?
If you had to, what piece of clothing from your wardrobe would you wear every day?
Jeans, no question
Favourite love song?
Very hard to choose so I’m going to try and get away with two: ’Good Luck Charm’ by Elvis and ‘Better Together’ by Jack Johnson.
Best place for a coffee?
A seat in a sunny spot listening to bird song and watching the bees as they flit from flower to flower
Most memorable piece of advice given to you?
From one of my oldest friends: ‘When you’re out you’re out’. I take it to mean throw yourself in to whatever you’re doing as there’s no point being half hearted or wishing you were somewhere else. Make the most of all you do and all that’s open to you. This mantra has led to some wild nights out and embracing life!
Nuts (and eating too many of them with a glass of wine before a meal…)
If you could spend 24 hours in anywhere in the world, where would it be?
Right now it would be revisiting a favourite day from my holiday – moored up on a yacht with 6 very good friends in St Peter’s Bay, Alonissos, Greece.
In future, how do you plan on expanding the company?
Bees are incredible creatures – it’s not just their honey which has so many benefits for us, their wax and propolis are good too with moisturising and anti-bacterial properties. People often ask me for the best honey to use on their face, so keep an eye out for a Hive & Keeper skincare range which captures these natural benefits.
Find out more…