Visitors to Hinchingbrooke Country Park in Huntingdon have been enjoying a taste of the facility’s very own honey this summer thanks to the hard work of bees and their keepers.

Beekeepers at Hinchingbrooke Country Park are celebrating another successful season of honey making Beekeepers at Hinchingbrooke Country Park are celebrating another successful season of honey making

The initiative began several years ago as a means of helping fund the ongoing work of the apiary in the country park, but the product has now started to acquire a reputation locally as something of a hidden gem, which can go from the hive to the shelves in just 24 hours.

“I think it is fantastic, we feel so proud of the bees because they work so hard all summer,” Roger Wood, apiary manager, said.

Throughout the year the apiary and its 12 colonies produce two varieties of honey but, Roger said, the taste can change dependent on the flora and rapeseed that is available across the district.

“Each year we get two harvests here, one that comes from the rape[seed] that is very prevalent in this area and once that is finished we get the floral variety from the flowers which is a darker honey,” Roger, who has been a beekeeper for 10 years, added.

“A bee, in its lifetime, can only produce about half a teaspoon of honey each year and their working lives are only about six weeks during the summer, and they pollinate those flowers each day.”

The jars are sold in four, eight and 12 ounces which are available to take home to enjoy – and about 19 bees are needed to produce a four ounce jar of honey. Once extracted from the hive and sieved to remove any lumps of wax or other impurities, the honey is placed into jars, either at the park or at Roger’s home, before being put on the shelves in the countryside centre.

“It is raw honey that is sold, we don’t process it and we don’t push it through a fine filter,” said Roger.

“The honey is so fresh that we can extract on the Saturday and people can be enjoying it by the Sunday.”

The apiary is open on Sundays throughout the summer months to allow members of the public to visit, through a viewing gallery, to understand what work is undertaken at the facility.

To find out more about beekeeping, go to www.huntsbka.org.uk.

FACT FILE

The apiary at Hinchingbrooke Country Park has 12 colonies, and they are estimated to house around 50,000 bees each.

Each apiary can produce around 40kg of honey before harvest.

Bees make honey in order to feed off during the autumn and winter months as they don’t hibernate.

Female bees are the only bees that work. The male drones do not work and, in the early autumn, they are ‘evicted’ by the workers and die.