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Kent Ambient Product of the Year Winner: Bray's Bees Honey

We are Sue and Vince Bray, your local Kentish beekeepers! We pride ourselves on selling pure honey, direct from our hives to you. Our apiaries are situated in Coxheath, Staplehurst, Marden, Lenham, Brook and Aylesford.

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We are Sue and Vince Bray, your local Kentish beekeepers! We pride ourselves on selling pure honey, direct from our hives to you. Our apiaries are situated in Coxheath, Staplehurst, Marden, Lenham, Brook and Aylesford.

We are pleased to be members of the Bee Farmers Association.

While Vince has always had an interest in honey bees, it was in 2012 I sent him off on a beekeeping course for his birthday. Little did we know then how it would change our lives! He then informed me he had ordered a bee suit for me, too, because he “needed an assistant”.

We started off with just a couple of hives in our garden and giving all our spare jars to friends and family.

I came home from work one day in 2015 and Vince excitedly told me that he’d booked us in for a local farmers' market the following month! We suddenly had to buy proper labels for our jars, as well as a gazebo and tables. The market manager advised us to have Facebook and Twitter accounts, and all of a sudden Bray’s Bees was born!

We soon realised we would need more hives and more bees due to the overwhelming interest that our honey had caused.

Luckily, attending the farmers' market, we soon got to know various farmers and landowners who were only too happy to let us house a few hives in a corner of their fields. This meant we could produce more honey and attend more markets.

Our methods of beekeeping are very natural as the bees know what they’re up to far more than people give them credit for. We keep our hive inspections to a minimum except in the swarm season when they are often plotting to clear off! We don’t use any chemicals to treat our bees. Bees in general have a hard enough time to cope with the pesticides and weed killers that people still insist on using, as well as the lack of wildflower meadows due to building works.

We also harvest our honey in a different way to some beekeepers. Each hive we harvest, we jar up separately, which results in different[1]coloured and different-tasting honey. We prefer to have the variety as opposed to saying ‘this is this year’s honey’.