Sweet success: Cape Town sisters win top spot at International Honey Awards in London

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Sana Khan (20) and her sisters, Noor, Ilham and Asam, started their luxury honey brand, named Beelal Honey, during the national lockdown. (PHOTO: Supplied)
Sana Khan (20) and her sisters, Noor, Ilham and Asam, started their luxury honey brand, named Beelal Honey, during the national lockdown. (PHOTO: Supplied)

These four siblings are flying the South African flag high with their un-bee-lievable fynbos honey.

Sana Khan (20) and her sisters – Noor (15), Ilham (13) and Asam (11) – recently scooped the top prize at the 2021 London International Honey Awards. The girls, who are from Athlone in Cape Town, were honoured with platinum, which is reserved for honey that scores between 95,5% to 100%.

It is also the first South African honey to win this award, says an excited Sana, who is studying psychology and politics at UCT.

The award doesn’t include money – it’s more about the prestige, she says. “It was amazing because there were hundreds of applicants. We were really in shock because all the big honey names from countries like Turkey, Argentina, Algeria and Australia were there.”

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The sisters started their luxury honey brand, named Beelal Honey, during the national lockdown. Their interest in honey started when their dad, Bilal, who the business is named after, would bring them a few jars when he returned from business trips.

“Honey was always like a family thing. My dad would always bring back honey from wherever he went. It kind of became a tradition.

Sana hive bee keeper
The sisters have 150 hives on the West Coast. (PHOTO: Supplied)

“Eventually we started figuring out ‘this is good, this is bad’. And then we realised that we have a lot of good honey in South Africa,” Sana says.

Interested in where the honey came from, Sana and her father then started researching the honey business.

“We found out that the Cape honeybees have been here since the beginning of time, they’ve actually evolved with the fynbos over thousands of years.

“So the enzymes they have are 2 000 years old and those are the enzymes you’ll have in your honey. It’s just so cool to think that something this good is right here and no one is really focusing on the specialty that it is,” she says.

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The family now have 150 hives on the West Coast and collaborate with other farmers, who host their hives.

“They are our hives and our bees, but we keep them on their farms. It’s all our own honey, we collect it ourselves, we harvest it ourselves, it’s just that we can’t keep it all in one place because then we’ll only get one type of honey,” says Sana, adding that they harvest their honey two to three times a year.

Sana and Asam
Sana and Asam at the farmer’s market, where they regularly sell their honey (PHOTO: Supplied)

The sisters decided to send their raw fynbos honey to the London awards earlier this year because of how unique it is, Sana says.

“They don’t test for taste; they test for quality. It’s about the quality of the honey, how good that is,” she says.

Despite winning the prestigious award and having an increased demand for their honey, Sana and her sisters are focusing on the quality of the honey and protecting their bees.

Sana hive
Sana and her sisters collect and harvest the honey themselves. (PHOTO: Supplied)

“We have a few stores in our neighbourhood that we supply to,” says Sana, adding that they’ve sold out on Takealot since winning the award.

“But for us, it’s not about supplying to the greatest number of stores. It’s more important that the quality of honey is good, and the bees are protected.

“I’m not going to overwork my bees to get more honey to fulfil the demand.”

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