Karen and I have two apiaries consisting of eight hives and a couple of nucs.
The first is a south facing apiary with early morning sunshine (when available) in an urban setting, close enough to the Chase to sometimes produce heather honey if the weather is in our favour.
At the moment it consists of 6 hives and a couple of nucs, which will be combined later in the year if required. The apiary is now up to full strength after throwing out a drone layer and replacing it with a split from the same colony.
There was a virgin queen in the original hive, but it appears she never made it back after mating during the heavy rains we had early on. Still that’s all part of beekeeping.
The second apiary consisting of 2 hives is situated in HMP Stafford. Having worked in the prison for 26 years and with Karen working INSIDE as well, we were asked by the Governor, if he purchased a couple of hive with all the basic equipment, could we supply the bees and the knowhow to set up a teaching programme for the inmates.
That was over 3 years ago, and the situation has gone from strength to strength.
Its been very popular with inmates and to date we have taught the basics of beekeeping to half a dozen lads along with a long list of others who have shown an interest.
These two hives have been excellent honey producers, and the honey is now being sold to the inmates in 8 oz squeezy plastic bottles (glass not allowed). The proceeds from the sales help towards the upkeep of the hives, for fondant, wax etc.
The programme has been quite promising, and other establishments around the country have shown an interest, and are considering the same in their prisons. The biggest hurdle with setting up an apiary in a prison is security, but having worked at Stafford for such a long time there were ways to get around the rules.
These last 8 or 9 years have been a challenge, and we’ve had our ups and downs, but we’ve always managed to keep going. HAPPY BEEKEEPING