Beekeeping for social change in the inner city – the Golden Company honey the Albanian mountain beekeepers exported to Hackney.

Ezekiel in beekeeper suit looking out from a rooftop over King's Cross[Photo reused with permission from the Hackney Gazette. Read their article here]

I first came across Zoe Palmer when she was walking up a mountain in Albania. In fact I was sitting on my sofa at the time, watching a video of her walk up Arapit for the Treks in a Wild World series, but through a mutual friend we made contact and I heard about her other passion, which is beekeeping for social change. She says that the inspiration for the Golden Company she set up to work with youth in Hackney came from that same walk through Albania, where she marveled at the sense of calm from the beekeepers she met. As she says, you can’t have attitude when you’re around bees, and she thought about the potential for putting bees into the inner city

Since 2009 her organization has engaged 40 young people as ‘Bee Guardians’, and they have included young carers, referrals from the Hackney Youth Offending Team team and young people who are not in education, employment, or training. Their stories and the organisation’s GOLDEN values (Greatness/ Opportunity/ Learning/ Discipline/ Employment/ Nature) are inspiring, as is the work that the Golden Company does for the inner city environment, through its twinning of City of London organizations with beehives tended by her Bee Guardians, for which urban wildflower meadows and bee friendly herbs are planted at suitable locations nearby.

And what does their honey taste like?

Just as inspiring. The pot I have was harvested from hives in St Mary’s Secret Garden behind the Jeffrye Museum. It’s has a lazy viscosity and a great colour. It’s the colour of the middle traffic light – a great reminder in the city to change down a gear and prepare to stop. I did so as I sampled the honey – its butterscotch aroma, slightly citrus kick on first tasting, and apricot aftertastes. Having enjoyed it by the fingerful, I spooned it over cut apple slices for my tea and found my own spot of Albanian mountain calm in the middle of the city.

My book, Travels in Blood and Honey; becoming a beekeeper in Kosovo came out this summer with Signal Books. Gift packs of signed or inscribed copies of the book, with a Kosovan crafted honey drizzler, are also available through me.

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One Response to Beekeeping for social change in the inner city – the Golden Company honey the Albanian mountain beekeepers exported to Hackney.

  1. Pingback: The ten best honeys in the world? | One hundred days of honey

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