Let me tell you how we discovered the incredibly delicious world of raw honey

Tim - Owner of The Raw Honey Shop

An obsession with raw honey grew from a literally life changing discovery, after visiting the Spanish Pyrenees during a family holiday in about 1997 or 1998.

It had been a very hot summer, really really hot. We were roasting in the south west of France and saw on the map a lake 'just over the border' in Spain. So we decided to head for it for a refreshing swim.

I don't think we ever reached the lake because our 'just over the border' was about 80 miles along tiny mountain roads. However, we spent the next week camping the Pyrenees, in an incredibly wild area where it really did seem like time had stopped. This was the Spain of old, not the fast developing Spain of the late 90s boom.

Where we found Ramon's honey

On the way back to France we stopped at a little border town, Bielsa, high in the mountains to pick up some gifts. The shop is at the back of the square, in this photo.

It was here that we discovered Ramon's honey.

There was about four shelves stacked with this honey in big one kilo jars. And there were lots of varieties I had never heard of - like Oak and Wild Lavender.

I don't think we opened any of the jars until we got back to England. When we did I was flabbergasted as was Karen by the strength of the flavour and the thick consistency.

This was unlike anything we had ever tried before. There was no comparison with the supermarket honey we had been eating before.

This really was a moment of revelation - the discovery of proper honey, something completely different to that stuff you get in the supermarket.

From then on the trips to the Spanish Pyrenees became an annual event for us. Always we would stop at the shop in Bielsa to buy larger and larger amounts of Ramon's amazing honey..

We couldn't meet the demand from friends and family - this alerted us to the fact that we might be onto something really exceptional.

So one year we decided we would try and go and see Ramon and ask him if he could sell wholesale honey to us.

That proved difficult. He didn't have a web site and he didn't seem to answer the phone. We had bought ferry tickets and were close to our leaving day but still we hadn't been able to get any response from him.

Eventually the night before we were due to get the ferry to France he returned our call. He said he would be pleased if we visited him.

I suppose we were expecting a little old man dressed in a beekeepers suit but as we were to find Ramon looked somewhat different. Quite a hip looking dude, but not in the least bit pretentious and very very earnest about his honey.

Finding Ramon's house was a mission and a half. He lived a two hour drive from the Pyrenees. But actually finding his house proved very difficult - you have to remember that this was in the days before satnav was common. In the end he came out to try and find us as we were completely lost.

Ramon - the original beekeeper

So we got to meet Ramon, his wife Begona and their three sons Jonathon, Mario and Alessandro. They were involved in running the family's honey business and running a small holding. They really were living the self sufficient life, although it was a way of life for them, not a fad.

Begona had prepared a feast for us and as it was a cold day we sat in front of a roaring fire whilst Ramon told us about his philosphy of beekeeping and we tried different types of honey on baguettes that Begona had made.

What we heard was pleasing and reassuring. Ramon was very committed to raw honey and to a traditional style of beekeeping.

He told us that he never pasteurises his honey because that would destroy the health properties and how it is only run through a coarse filter so that pollen remains in the honey (which gives it health benefits)..

He said he wanted to produce 'a honey, like the honey of old'. That he doesn't give his bees antibiotics or any chemical medicines.

Ramon doesn't add anything to his honey or take anything away.

So that evening we loaded up my van with boxes of Ramon's honey and began the journey back to England. From that beginning at the end of 2007 began Pyrenees Honey, which became The Raw Honey Shop.You can download a leaflet here about Ramon's honey and its benefits.

Later we met an organic beekeeper called Antonio. His hives are based in the mountain ranges to the north of Madrid. His honey is raw and certified organic. Antonio is the fourth generation in his family to keep bees for honey.

Antonio Simon - the first organic beekeeper we used.

Both beekeepers, Ramon and Antonio, sell really pure raw honey.

There are a few other beekeepers we get honey from now.

Luisa and Olaya live in Asturias in the north-west of Spain - bear country. They produce a limited range of raw creamed honeys.

We spend a lot of time researching the honey. We go to see the hives for all the different floral varieties of honey we supply and witness the honey extraction process. As well as this we ensure that the supplier has all the required documentation.

The Raw Honey Shop is based in Brighton, UK. We are a small team of our people.

There's me (Tim), Claire (Marketing Manager), and Ilinca (customer care). Most likely if you call up or email then you will get to speak to Ilinca. 

We send honey internationally, including the middle-east, far-east, USA and throughout Europe.

Karen, joint founder of The Raw Honey Shop

POSTSCRIPT: I am Tim, the owner of the Raw Honey Shop. I used to run it with my wife Karen, but she died a few years ago after a long illness. She told me she wanted me to continue after her passing and that is what I am now doing.

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