Welcome to Galtee Honey Farm, home to 200 colonies of Native Irish Black Honey Bees – a threatened honey bee. Nestled at the edge of the picturesque Glengarra Wood in the Galtee Vee Valley, the bees are placed throughout the countryside where the three counties of Tipperary, Limerick and Cork meet. It was established by Micheál Mac Giolla Coda in 1970. While forestor of Glengarra Forest, he also grew up with beekeeping. He decided to continue the family tradition, and to breed the Native Black Honey Bee of Ireland which was for at one time under threat of extinction.
The skills and knowledge he has acquired over the years have been handed down to his 6 children, including his daughter Aoife who officially took over Galtee Honey Farm in 2013. Her children Hannah and Micheál are currently learning about bees and beekeeping. Micheál and Aoife are both certified beekeeping lecturers. They teach beekeeping skills to others through lectures, beginners courses and workshops at beekeeping clubs around Ireland.
Micheál is a former president of the Federation of Irish Beekeepers Associations (FIBKA) and the Bee Improvement & Bee Breeders Association (BIBBA). Micheál is also a honey judge, having judged at honey competitions and shows both in Ireland and abroad.
Aoife is a former Public Relations Officer of Native Irish Honey Bee Society (NIHBS). She was once a regular contributor to An Beachaire – the Irish Beekeeping Journal. She currently takes part in the Honey Bee Steering Group for the All Ireland Pollinator Plan. They were both involved in the formation of NIHBS.
Beekeeping for both Micheál and Aoife at Galtee Honey Farm is a vocation and a way of life. It is driven mainly by and urge to protect and nurture honey bees.
Our bees collect honey from a variety of flora, which can include blackberry blossom, dandelion, hawthorn, white clover, horse chestnut, sycamore and ling and bell heather and ivy blossom. But there are many other minor flowers which they collect from. This multitude of flowers is what gives our honey – and all pure Irish honey – its complexity of flavour.
Our honey bees welfare is important to us. We place them in biodiverse sites such as old woods, farms with plenty of hedgerows and wild areas. Bees are healthier in places like this and have an opportunity to produce more honey. We do not exploit or expose our bees to high levels of stress. Our honey bees are not treated with chemicals. If we need to treat our bees for a disease, we only use certified organic treatments.
All our honey is produced by our own Native Black Honey Bees and is fully traceable back to us. We do not buy in any honey from other beekeepers. We have been very fortunate to receive awards for our honey, including Irish Food Awards and Irish Artisan Food Awards. From our bees we harvest Wildflower honey, Ivy honey and Heather & Ivy honey.
Our honey is a quality artisan food, but also a health food. We do not feed our bees sugar while they are producing honey. No sugar has been added to our honey. Our honey is not pasteurised or overheated. Many imported and supermarket honeys are pasteurised. This process destroys valuable enzymes and deteriorates the honey.
Honey is a natural antiseptic. It can help heal the throat, the stomach, cuts and burns. It contains flavonoids and antioxidants. It has traces of pollen which help alleviate symptoms of hayfever. It contains enzymes which aid digestion. Honey is not suitable for children under 12 months.
If your jar of honey eventually goes cloudy & solid, this is ‘crystallisation’ & is a sign of pure, natural honey. (It does not mean that sugar has been added – still a common misconception.) Crystallised honey is really nice to eat but if you wish to return it to its liquid state, warm it up to no less the 42 degrees celsius. This excludes Ivy honey which is meant to be eaten crystallised. Galtee Honeys crystallise at different rates depending on the flower they have come from. Some will crystallise in days and some will take many months to crystallise.