We got involved with the Buckfast strain of bee after finding our local mongrels were a little on the defensive side although they generated good over-Wintering stores. We went away and did our research and decided to take the plunge and we have not looked back.
This strain was created following the breeding methodology of Brother Adam, the beekeeper at Buckfast Abbey, hence the name. He gathered genetic characteristics from different strains of Honeybee from all over the World and bred queens taking the best characteristics from each. Buckfast bees are wonderful to keep, they are docile, industrious, prolific layers and lack swarming tendencies. They regularly produce a good surplus of honey and are quiet on the comb. They are the ideal new beekeeper’s bee. Where things can get a little unravelled is if subsequent generations hybridise with local non Buckfast bees beyond the first generation.
We buy the best quality Buckfast pure-bred queens and breed from those in an open mating situation. We flood our mating apiaries with pure bred Buckfast drones but cannot guarantee pure Buckfast bees as a result. Our queens are first generation and broadly speaking that makes them at worst F1 mated queens. We never let our queens become F2 as that would generate impure drones and be closer to the more unpleasant characteristics of the hybridised form. The drones from F1 queens are always pure Buckfast because of parthenogenesis. We offer for sale over-Wintered nucleus colonies (nucs), Summer bred F1 Buckfast nucs and mated F1 queens depending on our customer’s requirements and budgets. The nucs are to the BBKA standard on 6 frames with a deposit on the box or we can transfer to your box in the days running up to pick-up.
If you are new to beekeeping or want to try this amazing Honeybee in your established apiaries we would be only too happy to help you get the right stock. The best advice we can offer is that the better the genetics of your stock the more pleasurable your beekeeping will become. It worked for us.
As a consequence of our conservation effort we are rewarded with the finest honey money can buy. Our honey varies in colour and thickness from year to year depending on the forage available to our girls at the time.
Typically the spring build up is powered by nectar and pollen from Oilseed Rape and that is pretty much finished by early June. Our bees are located perfectly to then capitalise on the tree crops of Sycamore and Lime before the Himalayan Water Balsam kicks in about July. We are lucky enough to have excellent relationships with hosting farmers who, on occasion, plant fields of mono-crops such as Phacelia and White Clover, allowing us to offer artisan honey to our customers if the crop is successful.
If you represent a retail food outlet, hotel or restaurant we can offer our honey to you in any size of jar you would like or in bulk containers for the catering trade. If you wish to offer a bespoke product to your customers we are happy to advise on the design of your own packaging and presentation and supply it to you ready for sale.
Some hotels sell honey in their lobbies branded with their own coat of arms and they are the perfect high quality products to include in recipes in tea rooms. We welcome all approaches for our honey and as we are undeniably proud of it we would like to see it enjoyed by many more people.
I got involved with conservation as most of us do in a very passive manner, aligning my opinions with those experts who tell us what we should believe, to fit their agenda or skewed viewpoint. It is only when you do your own research and see the effects of external stressors on our ecosystems that you can know what is accurate. In short the honeybees tell us. With their behaviour and their success, or lack of it. I joined the Royal Air Force in 1986 as a Fighter Pilot and served for 18 years. It taught me many things about survival, tenacity, aggression, flexibility, economy of effort, determination and maintenance of the aim . Is it any wonder therefore that I became a beekeeper, cementing my future to a creature that sets the finest of examples of all of those qualities plus thousands more.
When I left the service I joined an airline and did what many pilots do, I relaxed into a comfortable way of life and very quickly became under-aroused and restless. I needed a new flying challenge and paragliding was it. I sought out the best flying instructor, possibly in the World and he took me on a journey which re-invigorated my love of flying. I visited many countries and sampled their cultures using my new hobby as the conduit. It was whilst in Nepal that I met a conservationist who’s work with birds of prey brought my love of conservation into stark relief. I returned looking for a cause and did not expect that to become a love affair with a creature which is feared yet revered.
I found myself in a taxi with another pilot and during one of his telephone calls he was mentioning phrases about hives, queens, drones, brood and honey. I then spent a magical two hours hearing all about his hobby and the seed was sewn in my mind. The rebel now had a cause.
My strategy for finding the best instructor for paragliding had been the correct one so I employed it once more in a search for a mentor. I called the British Bee Keeping Association and they mentioned a man who might help. It also turned out that he lived in the same Yorkshire village and he was only too happy to help me. There began the best Summer of my adult life. He has a wonderful beekeeping style and an encyclopaedic knowledge and thus was the perfect start to my beekeeping career. I saw more things in that Summer than a domestic beekeeper would see in a lifetime. His style demonstrated that management and empathy are the only keys to success and if you get it wrong the bees may help you with it from time to time. You have to work with the bees and not to your own agenda. A terrific statement but not always easy to stay focused on when managing a number of apiaries. Robin takes it to another level.
I started my own small scale business and stocked it with local bees which were a terrific starting point. It was during my first inspection by a Seasonal Bee Inspector that he suggested I try re-stocking with the Buckfast strain and spoke about the pitfalls but also the benefits of keeping this rather special Honeybee. That is how we got to the stage where we have numerous honey apiaries, a breeding apiary and 2 children below the age of 11 who have collected 17 swarms between them.
I asked my little girl if she could tell me what bees do, she didn’t say make honey or that they sting. She told me that Honeybees work with humans to make food for each other. If every child thinks that way then we might just be getting somewhere.
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