Great Cornard beekeepers expanding number of hives due to growth in business
The switch from the banking sector to keeping bees could not have been much more of a change of pace for Suffolk couple Kevin and Julie Thorn.
But in the two-and-a-half years since they set up Stour Valley Apiaries, they have seen growing interest in bees and their products, prompting them to significantly expand their operations.
The couple, of Head Lane in Great Cornard, are now increasing the number of hives they manage from 50 to 80, while also ramping up their work to teach techniques to aspiring keepers.
Mr Thorn, who is also the chairman of the West Suffolk Bee Keeping Association, told the Free Press he became interested in the practice of bee keeping “by accident”, when he was gifted his first hive by a client while working for HSBC.
Since then, they have grown the collection of hives across sites in Lavenham, Assington, Monks Eleigh, Brent Eleigh, Chelmsford, Boxted and Stanstead, and have recently expanded into Long Melford.
“It’s a much more physical job for me, but the experience of dealing with thousands of businesses over the year has definitely helped,” he said.
“It has been great using the advice we used to give to our clients. It feels like what we envisaged for the business has come to pass.”
He added that one of his biggest passions is sharing his knowledge through educational courses, to help others to breed their own queen bees and reduce reliance on imported bees, which introduce diseases.
Mrs Thorn, who also worked at HSBC, said: “My husband likes breeding healthy, happy bees, and I like the personal side and selling the products.
“I think it’s nice that we work together. It’s hard work, but we enjoy it.”
The business specialises in honey, plus products made from beeswax, such as lotions, cosmetics and candles.
To learn more, go to www.stourvalleyapiaries.com.