Our background has always included bees and my family have been keeping bees continuously over three generations since my grandfather started in the Scottish Borders in 1902.
I have lived and worked mainly in Wales for the past 51 years and started keeping bees on my own account in 1967 in Pembrokeshire with the local dark bee of the area. When my father passed away in 1982 I amalgamated his dark Ayrshire bees with my originals from Pembrokeshire and we still own apiaries of dark type bees today. My wife, Marian is from Carmarthenshire and together with her father we expanded the bees from 1975 onwards so that when I retired from my day job in 2006 we had taken the colony numbers up to about 160. However, as our beefeed business has grown the bee numbers have been reduced to about 50 stocks of which some three quarters are headed by Danish Buckfast Queens which allows us to manage the hives under a much wider range of weather conditions. Our aim is to average 40-45kgs of honey/hive and not to let the numbers rise too much!!
Obviously making good use of the beefeed is at the centre of beekeeping large numbers of bees in the productive hives. Since I retired our membership of the Bee Farmers Association has provided us with a huge amount of challenging ideas and information which has greatly helped us to take our business forward here in the Wye Valley where we have lived for the past 38 years.