Webbs Garden Centre in Wychbold is a buzz with the news that its very own bees managed to deliver a bumper crop of honey this year
Professional bee keeper Chris Broad has established eight working hives in the gardens at the centre.
Mr Broad harvested 900 jars of honey this spring, which was sold in the food hall at Webbs, double the amount his other hives produced elsewhere.
The apiary produces two types of honey, a firm one, which is harvested earlier in the spring, and a runny variety, which is harvested later in the summer.
He said: “The bees at Webbs seem to produce about twice as much honey per hive as my bees elsewhere. They are certainly some of my best bees and I think the key to their high productivity is a succession of flowers for them all through the season in the Webbs gardens and nearby. This spring they had an abundance of hawthorn blossom and also oilseed rape and they went crazy on blackberry blossom.
“The Webbs bees have a great spot too. It's well screened to keep out the wind and partially shaded which is perfect for them, so they don't have to work too hard at either cooling or heating the hive.”
Webbs has organized a number of introductory sessions for prospective bee keepers to tap into customers’ enthusiasm for the bees, often selling out.
Mr Broad added: “People come with all sorts of motivations, but it seems to me the most common is a desire to supply your own kitchen with high quality home-grown honey. However, starting beekeeping can be quite a daunting prospect without some sort of introduction, and the taster course is intended to help prospective beekeepers to make an informed decision without having to commit to a full scale beekeeping course straight away.”
Ed Webb, chairman of Webbs Garden Centre, added: “It’s fascinating to see how the nectar from our lovely gardens is turned by the bees into this delicious-tasting honey. The hives have sparked a lot of interest from our visitors both in the honey and the bee keeping taster courses. We have stunning gardens full of a wide variety of plants here at Webbs and I’m sure the bees benefit from the rich nectar.
“It's wonderful to see how nature is driving our visitors’ interest and understanding in seasonal food production. Customers in the food hall had been asking for weeks when the set honey was going to be on sale again having enjoyed it so much last year. They remembered that the first honey yield is set due to the pollen from spring flowers and are keen to find out what this year’s crop will taste like. As the bees move onto the summer flower pollen – which results in runny honey - we look forward to tasting more delicious results later this year.”