Comb Honey and Customs


Vermont based honey farmer and honeybee queen breeder Mike Palmer is a kind, patient and extremely knowledgeable chap. When I asked him what I could bring from the UK on my recent visit to meet him he asked for heather comb honey. Comb honey is what people who really like honey eat, because it is completely unprocessed and still in the wax comb; nothing added, nothing taken away.

I ordered a load of Heather Hills comb honey, made by bees on the vast wild expanses of heather on the Scottish hills, and hoped that it would arrive before my trip to America, which it did. The taste is strong and distinctive. Lets just say it isn’t delicate or light. But it has that interesting depth which evolves from the initial “there’s something wrong with this” to “I’m not sure I like this but I’ll have some more” to “I want to eat it all and share it with nobody”. Nevertheless, a walrus cannot break his word, and share it I must, so the honey comb containers were packed into a plastic leak-proof box and taken in my hand luggage from Manchester to Atlanta, and then on to Burlington, where they were driven to St Albans Vermont and presented to my host for the next five days, the aforementioned M Palmer esq.

Having carefully declared that I was bringing food into the USA from abroad, by ticking the relevant box on the blue customs form provided, I was mentally prepared for the full body search followed by water boarding interrogation at US Customs. I had heard some tales of woe and was quite concerned. However, it turned out that the good people of the Atlanta customs and border security service had more important things on their minds than me and my box of honey. They were almost friendly as they waved me through without even checking that I had honey. “You have a nice day too,” said I as I breezed into the USA unmolested and trying to deal with the sense of anti climax.

So here I sit, in Mike’s lovely home in this quiet rural place of natural beauty, where it is properly dark at night with a stunning display of stars above, contemplating the meaning of life and what I may have for breakfast. I know what the mosquitos are having…me!

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