A Unesco declared Biosphere Reserve.
Grazalema and Ronda have the last examples of the Abies pinsapo fir trees, living fossils that grew in the Tertiary period and still exist today. It has over 2000 species of wild flower and a wealth of fauna including 75 species of butterfly and Red deer, Fox, Hare, Egyptian mongoose, Stone martin, Genet and Wild Boar.
Humans have been hunting for honey and keeping bees since time immemorial and Juan Luis carries on this tradition with the utmost care and love for what he does. The positioning of the hives within the park mean that there are no contaminants in the honey at all and the flora that exist within the park give the honey a unique and exquisite taste.
Declared a Biosphere Reserve by Unesco, Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park is located in the north east of the province of Cadiz and in the north west of Malaga, at an altitude ranging from 250 to 1,654 metres above sea level.
It is among the areas of greatest ecological importance in the south of the peninsula, and therefore of great significance in Spain as a whole and is a special protection area for birds.
It has the highest rainfall in the Iberian Peninsula, with an annual average of over 2,000 litres per square metre, and is the most important western massif of the Subbetica range. Its heavy rainfall and limestone terrain have created a limestone landscape rich in slopes, grottoes, caves and winding gorges.
The finest Spanish pine grove in the country, a vegetational relic of the tertiary period, a veritable living fossil which only grows at altitudes of over 1,000 metres, is to be found in what is known as the Sierra del Pinar (Pine Grove Mountain Range). The rest of the Park’s vegetation, clearly Mediterranean in type, includes large areas of holm-oak woods. Cork oak, gall oak and pine groves are also to be found. Carob trees, wild olives and barberries also feature, along with riverside woods and thick scrub.
Juan Luis uses the observation hive to study the health of his colonies and as an aid to further his knowledge of the bees and bee keeping.
All of the honey that Juan Luis produces is raw and unfiltered, free of contaminants and antibiotics.
A day spent with Juan Luis and his father in Grazalema is always something i look forward to. It really is the most beautiful countryside and the village of Grazalema is a jewel of a village surrounded by mountains and forests.
Juan Luis family have been bee keeping since the beginning of the last century when the first hives were made from the bark of the cork trees.
Natural raw honey is a living food and is full of beneficial enzymes and phytonutrients. Benefits of raw honey include antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal properties as well. Pasteurisation (sterilisation through heating) kills the majority of these enzymes. This is what you get with commercially produced honeys. The sweetness remains but many of the nutritional benefits have been destroyed. Raw honey has not been heat treated, and is bottled as harvested so that all its nutritional benefits are intact.
Raw honey can be used as a sweetener instead of using processed sugars in drinks or with food. What is less well known is that raw organic honey has been used for healing skin problems such as eczema sores, burns, cuts, scrapes and localised infections for thousands of years. It can help with digestive problems such as ulcers and colitis, and is also good for colds, coughs and sore throats.
Note, no honey should be given as a food to babies under 18 months. Honey naturally contains botulinum spores which aren’t harmful to children and adults, but can be for young babies as their immune systems are more immature.
Is raw honey the same as organic honey? Well no. Commercial honey producers and beekeepers may use synthetic drugs and antibiotics to prevent bee disease, or calcium cyanide to kill the bees to harvest the honey, or carbolic acid as part of the extraction process. Flowers from which the bees collect nectar may have been sprayed with pesticides. Conventional honey that is not certified organic may have been produced using some or all of these practices. To ensure the honey you consume is free from all of these, choose honey that is certified organic by one of the approved certification bodies.
Juan Luis is a forth generation bee keeper and works with his father in the Grazalema Natural Park in the Cadiz Province of Andalucia. It is some of the most beautiful countryside i have ever seen and Juan Luis is lucky enough to both live and work here. The park encompasses, within its 127,740 acres, a complex of mountain ranges, known collectively as the Sierra de Grazalema.
Something that contributes greatly to the quality of our honey is Juan Luis’ love and care of his bees. So that the colonies remain strong and healthy Juan Luis always leaves a part of the harvest within the hive so the bees are properly fed and can survive healthily the damp, cold winters.
Juan Luis uses no chemicals whatsoever in the farming of his bees and no sterilization or heat treatment in the bottling process, ensuring that his honey is raw, certified organic and of the highest quality.