Heather timing.

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Poly Hive

Queen Bee
Dec 4, 2008
Reaction score
Scottish Borders
Hive Type
Number of Hives
12 and 18 Nucs
Just seen on another thread the timing to move for the heather which in my lexicon is Ling. Calluna vulgaris

I used to take my hives in Aberdeenshire, some 500 miles north of London please note, to the heather in the third week in July.

At least one year at the local honey show, and the local association had at that time some 500 members, stated with confidence that the heather had failed that year.

Funny that I thought having taken off some ton plus.

The classic timing for the move is for the glorious 12th. Not a classic I endorse.

For me the nearest heather would be the North Yorkshire Moors.

I have never taken my hives, but would like to (one year). Do I need to seak permission? i.e who owns the land?

Any tips for finding a spot?

Bell heather is not heather honey no. Legally "Heather Honey" is ling. On saying that a brief google does not confirm it. Though in the past it was certainly the case and had a seperate moisture content allowable, 23%

However in my view to pass off Bell as Heather is cheating the customer as Heather Honey (Ling) has a very distinctive aroma, taste and behaviour.

Bell has to be labelled as "Honey from the Heather Moors" and if you want to try for that you a, need to be up there in early July and b, you need substantial patches of it.

Heather sites? Look for bracken clumps as they prefer shelter. a large Scottish Beefarmer swears by Juniper showing good glens.

When it comes to Heather I used to get the terminology wrong.
I think its as follows, (someone will guide me if I am wrong).

Bell Heather Erica cinerea Family = Ericaceae

Heather / Ling Callune vulgaris Family Ericaceae

The main difference is in the head of the flowers.
The Family Erica has over 700 species.

I have added some photo's of Heather and Ling.

From left to right
Calluna vulgaris - Calluna vulgaris flower - Erica flower - Erica cinerea - Erica mammosa
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The main difference for the beekeeper is in the honey.

Bell is deemed floral honeyand can be extracted conventionally. Ling is thixotropic and needs to be pressed or agitated to change it from a jelly state to liquid. From which it will gradually return to jelly again.


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