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West Suffolk beekeeper Mike Graystone who has inspired hundreds retires from teaching



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The chairman of West Suffolk Beekeepers’ Association has paid tribute to its retiring apiary manager, by saying he has left ‘a significant legacy’ after training hundreds in the world of apiculture.

Kevin Thorn first met Mike Graystone, from Troston, in 2013 at a beginners’ course that he ran with his wife Maureen.

But the 88-year-old has been teaching at the association’s Nowton Park hives - which he gave to the group - since the mid-90s.

Maureen and Mike Graystone with the association’s cup which will be presented in his name. Picture: Mark Westley
Maureen and Mike Graystone with the association’s cup which will be presented in his name. Picture: Mark Westley

Kevin said: “Mike’s contribution to the association and beekeeping in Suffolk has been huge. He has always been willing to jump in his truck to help a beekeeper struggling with a problem.

“Mike has worked tirelessly to teach beekeeping to new generations of beekeepers and to promote beekeeping in the wider community.”

Mike said he fell in love with bees and looking after them when he was at school in Halesworth, Norfolk, where they had six hives of their own, but it was not until 1954 when his passion grew.

Mike Graystone, 88, with one of his hives. Picture: Mark Westley
Mike Graystone, 88, with one of his hives. Picture: Mark Westley

He said: “After I had done my national service, I met two friends at Marlows in Bury. One of them was a beekeeper. He told me about it and that is how I got into it.

“It is a passion, they are just marvellous creatures and we should all really look after them.”

Though the beekeeper says he had to give up teaching due to age ‘getting him’, that has not stopped him still producing honey.

He has 60 colonies of his own bees on farm land in Troston and Ixworth, producing his ‘Suffolk Honey’, which is sold at places including Hillcrest Nurseries in Stanton as well as The Daily Grind stall on Bury market.

Mike added: “We did have 100 colonies, but you can’t manage them as you would like, so we cut back.”

Asked what it is about beekeeping he still enjoys, he simply said: “Well, it is just a terrific hobby.”

Mike was presented with a cup by the association at his retirement party, which will be awarded in his name at the association’s next honey show in September.

With all the work Mike has done for the association, including selling honey to raise funds, its chairman said they would deeply miss him and his vast knowledge.

Kevin said: “We are now realising fully how much Mike did as he steps down from running the apiary.

“There are hundreds of beekeepers who have been taught and inspired by Mike and he leaves a significant legacy to the association and all of us he taught.”

To find out more about the West Suffolk Beekeepers' Association, go to westsuffolkbka.com