Scotland’s healing honey creating worldwide buzz

Diana Cairns holds up a jar of the volunteer group's honey

Diana Cairns holds up a jar of the volunteer group's honey


MANUKA honey, famous for its healing properties, has a new rival produced by volunteer beekeepers in Scotland.

MANUKA honey, famous for its healing properties, has a new rival produced by volunteer 
beekeepers in Scotland.

Microbiologists claim that a honey produced by the six-strong volunteer group in Edinburgh has been found to be just as beneficial as its New Zealand “superfood” counterpart.

To date, only 36 jars of the new sweet spread have been produced, but tests have shown it has the potential to be just as effective in the fight against 
bacteria as the world-famous Manuka variety.

Researchers from Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh have discovered that the honey made by bees housed in a tiny Portobello orchard is also able to kill common bacteria – including superbugs such as MRSA – which cause wound infections.

The team now plans to conduct further tests to discover what it is about the Portobello honey that gives it more health benefits than other varieties.

Dr Lorna Fyfe, the university’s senior lecturer in microbiology and immunology, who led the study, said: “We were amazed at the results. It is unlikely many other honey varieties have the same anti-microbial qualities.

“We need to find out exactly what it is about this honey and see if it is unique to Portobello or if there is other honey being produced in other parts of Scotland which is just as special.”

Dr Fyfe said the results were so impressive the Edinburgh honey may one day be used alongside Manuka honey as a more effective treatment for wounds than antibiotics.

The honey used in the study came from beehives kept in 
Portobello Community Orchard, which is maintained by Pedal, a small community organisation of volunteers.

The group only started producing honey a year ago, after buying bees from an East Lothian beekeeper for two hives which they put up in their 

Diana Cairns, co-founder of Pedal and one of the volunteer beekeepers, said: “We are delighted, and also a little taken aback, that our honey has been found to be so extraordinary.

“We have about 60,000 bees, but the wet weather has meant the honey has been scarce – we have only had about four jars each this year.”

Despite the study results, Ms Cairns says the volunteers have no plans to start mass-producing the honey. She said: “We were set up to help cre­at­e a sustainable local eco­nomy, about growing what we need and reducing the need for travel costs. We are nothing to do with making money.”

Taste test: ‘Sweet, fruity and utterly delicious’

SELF-confessed honey monster Alex Hewitt described the Portobello delicacy as “utterly delicious”.

The photographer, 35, of Edinburgh, said: “This is a really sweet and fruity honey. As soon as you open the jar, you are literally overwhelmed with a sweet, warming and inviting smell.

“It is much fruitier than most other honey I have had, that is sort of unusual about it, but utterly delicious.

“You do get a heathery smell too, so it feels very natural. It is a bit gritty, like any decent honey should be. It feels very organic.

“My kids, aged six and eight, will absolutely love this on their toast.

“So not only can this heal wounds, it tastes amazing and it’s Scottish. I love it.”




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