The buzz in the air at Webbs, Wychbold, has yielded sweet success with a bumper crop of honey for the award-winning garden centre.
Professional bee keeper Chris Broad successfully established eight hives in the Webbs gardens near Droitwich last year and is delighted they have just produced double the honey of any of his other bees. This spring the hives have provided 900 jars of exclusive Webbs? honey which will be sold in the Food Hall.
Chris, who runs Saltway Honey with his wife Susan from Bromsgrove, set up the apiary which yields two types of honey ? a firm early one and a runny variety which will be ready later in the summer.
Chris 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.?
He added, ?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.?
Last year the bees produced 1,600lb of honey over the whole season of which 400lb was spring honey.
Visitors to Webbs have been entranced by the bees and a number of taster sessions for prospective bee keepers at the garden centre has already sold out.
Chris Broad said, ?I’m not surprised our bee taster courses are full up as we?ve seen a huge interest in beekeeping over the past few years and the number of beekeepers in the county has roughly trebled since 2005. 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.?
Chairman Ed Webb said, ?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. ?
He added, ?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.?