What started out as a new hobby three years ago for Neil Sampson, managing director at Solar Gates UK, beekeeping has become a thriving side-line for the manufacturers of INSTBOOM.
Now with over a dozen hives at their premises, the team have had a bumper honey harvest this year with over 250lbs of sweet, fresh meadow honey. The bees have done very well to make that much, it’s probably half what could be expected. But it has been a strange year for weather with a warm start in April, followed by a very cold and wet May and frankly not a great summer if you like flying around on warm, still, days looking for flowers to pollinate.
"Running the apiary has been such a pleasure – albeit hard and confusing work sometimes as I am continually learning. But I find it a really relaxing past time. It’s my mindfulness and somewhere I can escape to when I need a mental health break from the day. Practicing mindfulness helps to regulate emotions, decrease stress, and can relieve symptoms of depression and anxiety. I am able to look at world with less judgment and in a more accepting mind frame. Strategically it gives me a better position to look at the big picture. The fact that bees are so productive and organised is fascinating and the innate workings of insect populations and their division of labour really relates to best business practice" explains Neil.
With the extraction of the honey from the hives in late August, the beekeeping season comes to an end. It’s now all about winter preparation for the colonies. Honey bees don’t hibernate, they slim down their population (from the 50000 per hive in the summer to less than half for the winter) and then stay in the hive, huddled around the queen, vibrating their wing muscles to keep the hive at a sultry 30oC all winter – making sure the queen is happy and fed and ready to start all over again in the spring.
If you want a jar of Solar Gates honey, give them a call on 01622 534000. Perfect on your autumn breakfast.