Honey bees thrive on the Drewton Estate

Published: 26/08/2011

Decreasing numbers of bees in our countryside has led to a shortage of honey in some areas, but Drewton's Farm Shop near South Cave has ensured that it will always be able to offer customers a plentiful supply by establishing 20 hives nearby.

The hives, which are kept on the Drewton Estate and are home to around one million bees, are cared for by local beekeeper Lester Quayle.

Lester produces and supplies three different types of honey for the farm shop – creamed set honey, heather honey and mixed flower honey.

A member of Beverley Beekeepers' Association, Lester inspects the hives every week to check all is well and ensure that the bees are not tempted to desert the hives by 'swarming'.

He explained: "If I think a hive is getting ready to swarm, I put the queen in a new, empty hive and half the bees join her; it's tricking them into thinking that they've started a new hive elsewhere and that way I don't lose them."

During the early summer months, the bees enjoyed gathering nectar and pollen from the Oil Seed Rape grown on the Drewton Estate, before moving onto the Bramble and Lime Tree blossom in the woods.

However, they've recently gone off to the North Yorkshire Moors for their summer holiday, where they'll spend August gathering nectar from the Heather.

Lester explained: "One evening in late July, I sealed the bees into the hives with foam once they'd all gone to bed. Then, it's onto a trailer and off up the road for plenty of Heather. This nectar produces the fragrant, dark Heather honey that you will find on sale at Drewton's."

He added: "I've been keeping bees for nearly 25 years and turned my hobby into a business called East Riding Honey. I'm pleased to be working with and supplying Drewton's; having the hives right here on the Drewton Estate really is keeping it local!"

Katie Taylor, who owns and runs Drewton's Farm Shop, said: "With honey bees in decline in recent years, it's thanks to people like Lester that the trend is starting to reverse."

As part of the British Beekeepers' Association campaign to attract new beekeeping enthusiasts, Lester and his fellow members offer regular training courses and meetings to share their knowledge and offer support to newcomers.

Anyone who'd like to find out more can go along to a 'meet the supplier' event at Drewton's Farm Shop this Sunday, August 21, when Lester will bring along his special glass-sided hive so that people can see what goes on inside.

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