Brian McElvaney – Head Beekeeper Cliff at Lyons.
After borrowing a beekeeping book from the library that he couldn’t fully understand at age 10, the spark was lit and Brian eventually started keeping bees over 20 years later. What started out as curiosity and a little hobby has expanded to fill Brian’s time managing hives and bees, producing honey and working with study groups to help other beekeepers increase their knowledge and pass beekeeping exams! Brian is lucky to have a very patient wife and two very patient sons!
“The bees at Lyons are a great way to tell the story of the role of the honeybee and being able to supply delicious local honey is a very nice bonus!”
In May, we brought three small hives to Cliff to be built up with good intentions for the 2019 season but the bees were strong, the Summer weather was fantastic and the forage available around Cliff at Lyons, the Grand Canal and the Lyons estate is excellent. We got a honey crop that we didn’t expect until next year. Having missed the Spring Dandelions, Hawthorn, Sycamore and fields of oil seed rape this was purely a summer honey harvest.
It’s quite a light honey but with more depth to the flavour than you would be used to from the supermarket. Bramble (blackberry) nectar is an important contribution to most Irish Summer honey but this was also a very good year for clover and its nectar gave the honey a lighter colour. Each honey crop has its own subtleties and I can’t quite pin-point it but I’m sure that the 200 metres of flowering Escallonia hedging between the hotel and the estate have influenced this one – the whole hedge was buzzing during its peak. in a 100 pollen grain sample for the honey, it was 80% White clover, 10% Lime, 5% Bramble, 3% Vetch and 2% Gorse.
For now, the strongest hive has been moved to the bog with other hives, to hopefully catch a crop of heather honey. Once that work is done, it’s time to get settled for Winter but we may even squeeze in a few more back at Cliff at Lyons to make good use of all the forage available there in 2019!
“Inspiration is all around, I even take cues from the Cliff bees that sometimes come up and tap on the Orangery windows.”
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