With Kangaroo Island’s identity as a producer of speciality foods, my first visit to the island last month was highly anticipated. I couldn’t wait to bring back a suitcase full of edible souvenirs, direct from the source!
Kangaroo Island is said to have the last remaining pure strain of Ligurian bees, so KI (as the locals call it) honey is highly sought after.
Image credit: Clifford’s Honey Farm
The Clifford Family has 6 generations on Kangaroo Island heritage. Clifford’s Honey Farm started as a hobby in 1973 and is now a family business with three generations involved. In addition to stocking up on honey, Clifford’s Honey Farm is also a good opportunity to learn all about the social structure of bees, how they communicate, and how honey is manufactured. A few notable facts I learned are:
- There is only one queen bee in each hive, and she can live up to five years
- Each hive contains 40,000 – 100,000 bees
- To make 500g of honey, worker bees visit 2 million flowers and fly 100,000kms at a top speed of 27 km/h
- Worker bees only live for 6 weeks; their wings wear out while collecting nectar… They literally work themselves to death!
At Clifford’s Honey Farm, you can also buy many bee or honey related products including their very own handmade beeswax candles and you mustn’t leave without tasting some honey ice-cream.
Image credit: Clifford’s Honey Farm
Chatting with Bev, she tells me that Jenny’s (her mother) Great Grandfather Mr John Turner (Sutton Apairy) was one of three farmers who were custodians of the original Ligurian bee hives that were introduced to Kangaroo Island in the 1880’s. Here, she shares with us her wealth of knowledge about bees, honey, and even a family honey recipe:
What is unique about Ligurian bees and Ligurian honey?
The Ligurian Bees are known as the gentle bees, and also they are hard working, making them an excellent temperament for beekeeping. The Ligurian Honey is diverse and unique because of the different variety of flora that is available naturally on pristine Kangaroo Island. Many eucalyptus honey varieties are harvested- including-Sugar Gum, Cup Gum, Stringy Bark, Mallee and many more.
What’s one fact honey connoisseurs usually don’t know about honey?
Honey doesn’t have an expiry date, and is therefore safe to eat no matter how long its been in your pantry.
You now run approximately 300 honey producing hives, extracting up to 30 tonnes of honey annually. Where does most of your honey end up?
Most honey is sold locally on Kangaroo Island and also in Adelaide at the Central Markets and also at Glenelg SA. We also sell direct to many restaurants in South Australia as well as the eastern states of Australia. We also sell honey online through our retail store and web site.
I love that the single varietal honeys are so pure and distinct in flavour. Which flavour is your best selling honey?
Sugar Gum Honey
A lot of people rave about Jenny’s homemade honey ice-cream. How did this start?
Jenny found a honey ice-cream recipe in a honey cookbook over 20 years ago and after the first batch she adjusted the recipe to improve the flavour and texture of the ice-cream, and the rest is history.
I’m sure the Clifford family would have plenty of favourite honey recipes, is there one you could share?
- 2 tspn honey
- Handful of fresh mint chopped
- Handful of fresh coriander chopped
- Handful of parsley chopped
- 1 whole cucumber seeded and peeled and diced
- 1 dspn red wine vinegar
- 1/2 fresh chilli chopped
- 1 dspn olive oil
- 1 dspn lemon juice.
- Mix everything together and serve with meats and salads.
Has technology changed the way honey is harvested over the years?
The machinery we have now from the company called “Bee Engineering” is great. About 15 years ago we got this extracting equipment and it makes harvesting much more easier.
You mentioned propolis as a beehive byproduct that seems to have many medical uses, tell us more about this.
It is to be noted that propolis may cause allergic reactions. Propolis is highly antibacterial, anesthetic, and antiseptic, making it a wonderful healing product when made into products like tincture, mouth wash, toothpaste, soaps etc.
We use a hive mat to collect propolis and sell it in bulk to buyers who then process it into products. At our retail store, we currently we stock Kangaroo Island Liquid Golds propolis products – tincture, and soaps. We also sell the propolis toothpaste, throat lozenges and propolis cosmetic cream.
Clifford’s Honey Farm
1157 Elsegood Road, Kingscote, Kangaroo Island, South Australia
Phone: (02) 8553 8295
Shop online: www.cliffordshoney.com.au/shop.php
Open 9am – 5pm, 7 days
I Ate My Way Through travelled to Kangaroo Island as a guest of South Australian Tourism Commission