Beekeeper Eddie Hart (67) of Belvidere Heights has won the award for the World’s Best Tasting Honey at the 2013 Black Jar Honey Contest, hosted by the Center for Honeybee Research in Asheville, North Ca-rolina, USA on Wednesday, November 13.
Hart says he was astonished when he heard the good news. “I really didn’t expect it,” he says proudly.
What started off as a mere hobby, has now gained recognition internationally. Hart recalls that he has always been interested in beekeeping and completed a course in England many years ago. When he retired as regional director of pharmaceutical company Merck KgaA in Europe about nine years ago, he initially started with a couple of beehives, which soon grew to about 25 hives, placed in and around Belvidere’s fynbos and Harkerville’s fields of clover.
Hart was approached by the organisers of the Black Jar Honey Competiton after Professor Jamie Ellis of the University of Florida in the USA informed the organisers of Hart. The beekeeper had met Ellis earlier while the professor was visiting South Africa to research the Apis mellifera capensis, a unique variety of honeybee occurring in the southern parts of South Africa.
The bees are well-known for its robustness, but especially for the the fact that the female worker bees can, in the absence of a queen in the colony, lay eggs to produce female offspring. This ensures the survival of the colony if the existing queen bee dies before a new queen is produced and is something that no other bee species can achieve. Ellis is a world authority on these honeybees and during his visit in April this year, he presented a talk to interested residents of Belvidere and Knysna.
Hart says he entered the competition, encouraged by Prof Ellis’ recommendation, not expecting that anything would come of it. To ensure safe passage to the USA, a sample of Hart’s Honey was sent in a plastic milk bottle after ensuring that no permit was necessary.
After carefully selecting the best honey from hundreds of entries from all over the world, six celebrity chefs focused on fourteen of the world’s best tasting honeys. Hart’s Honey convincingly took the first prize in the World’s Best Tasting Honey category. In his report, Charles Chesick, director for the Center for Honeybee Research, stated, “The honey was not only collected from the fynbos vegetation of the southernmost tip of Africa, but gathered by Apis mellifera capensis bees. Who knew such a combination even existed?! The taste captivated our judges.”
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