Beekeeper's lockdown project becomes a 60,000-strong colony
- Credit: Simon Ross
A beekeeper who started his first colony during lockdown has seen its numbers swarm to 60,000 - creating a valuable pollination service for farm crops and nature.
Simon Ross, an Environment Agency floods and coastal risk management officer for East Anglia, said his interest in bees peaked when the pandemic restricted his working travel around the region.
He lives in Lakenheath, close to the cut-off channel that runs between the Lark and Ouse rivers.
"I have always been surrounded by wildlife and nature, but it never dawned on me just how much I could help the bee population until lockdown," he said.
"After two months of studying beekeeping books and woodworking plans, I set about building my first beehive using reclaimed materials from a recent building project. It took me a week to complete but within just a few days it attracted a swarm of wild bees.
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"The sound was terrifying but within an hour they were all happily inside the hive with just a few buzzing about getting their bearings.
"After that success I then began purchasing more hives and supplies to accommodate the ever-growing colony.
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"My success encouraged me to join a local beekeeping association and then the national databases to become a fully registered beekeeper.
"As a result, I have been called to collect many local swarms and now have two large healthy colonies that consist of an estimated total of 60,000 bees. The bees work hard pollinating the nearby nature reserve and surrounding crops."
When his hive starts to produce enough honey, Mr Ross plans to complete a food hygiene course so he can sell the bees' produce to a nearby farm shop.
He added: "Once the bee population grows I am also going to look into having my own larger apiary in some privately-owned land not far from my home that will also benefit the farmland in that area."
Mr Ross has also encouraged his colleague Ben Di Giulio to become a beekeeper, who has introduced beehives onto the Environment Agency's Denver Complex.
He added that people can help the bee population in their own garden by planting flowers, letting areas grow wild, not over-mowing the grass and not using pesticides.