St Albans café teams up with beekeeper to produce local honey in its back garden

PUBLISHED: 17:00 23 June 2019 | UPDATED: 15:11 27 June 2019

Steve Foulds from Queen of Herts with the George Street Canteen beehive. Picture: Kevin and Julie Lee

Steve Foulds from Queen of Herts with the George Street Canteen beehive. Picture: Kevin and Julie Lee

Archant

A St Albans café has become a buzz of activity by installing a new beehive in its back garden.

Steve Foulds from Queen of Herts with the George Street Canteen beehive. Picture: Kevin and Julie LeeSteve Foulds from Queen of Herts with the George Street Canteen beehive. Picture: Kevin and Julie Lee

About three years ago, George Street Canteen ran a produce shop from its courtyard, selling a variety of local products for its patrons.

However, café co-owner Kevin Lee said the store had to close partly because regional products were difficult to source - especially honey.

This inspired Kevin and co-owner Julie Lee to team up with beekeeper Steve Foulds, who runs Queen of Herts with Michael Clinton, and make use of a disused area of the garden.

Kevin said: "It is sort of overgrown, and right behind the graveyard of the abbey. It is a big space that we weren't able to use before."

After a year of maintenance work, Steve brought the hive's 50,000 bees to George Street last month.

When the first batch of around 20 jars is sealed next month, Kevin and Julie hope to sell the sticky stuff and use it in homemade recipes for the canteen - such as honey cake.

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They hope the hive will generate around two to three batches a year. Kevin said: "If you live around here and have allergies, then it is meant to be good for that.

"We try to be as local as we can and I did want to do the bees myself when we had the idea of local honey, but it is way too much work.

"It has been a talking point, a lot of people have been interested in having a look and the space is not wasted - I hate that it has been wasted before."

Buckfast bees were chosen because they are less aggressive than other breeds.

Kevin added: "They are more docile - they are only interested in honey and not a lot else. But we still lock it up, just in case of children.

"You can see them through the gate, and when it is sunny there are lots of bees and you can really hear them as well."

Beekeeper Steve, who is sure to avoid the hive's reserves so the animals can survive throughout winter, said the foliage around George Street Canteen is especially suitable for bees.

Kevin hopes the business will be able to take on more hives in the coming years.

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