Supplies of honey running out

THE effect of Suffolk's declining bee population last year can today be seen in the county's farm shops with a lack of local honey supplies.

Naomi Cassidy

THE effect of Suffolk's declining bee population last year can today be seen in the county's farm shops with a lack of local honey supplies.

Normally the supply of local honey given to shops in August can sustain them until the fresh produce arrives around June, but because so many bees have been wiped out over the last two summers, there is a distinct lack of honey around.

Factors for the high increase in bee deaths include the extended cold winter last year, mites on bees and various pesticides.

Shops all over the county, including The Suffolk Food Hall in Wherstead and Alder Carr Farm in Creeting St Mary, have run out of honey and are hanging on until the next delivery this Summer.

Robert Paul, a director at Suffolk Food Hall, said: “There is just a lack of local honey because of the mites on bees last year. One of our honey suppliers has hives all over the county and they were all affected. It is a global issue.

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“People have been asking for honey and disappointed that they cannot get it. Some people with hay fever like to use it for a natural remedy. We haven't got enough stock to meet the demand.”

As the farm shop has run out of the popular runny honey, people have been switching to set honey, meaning a sales increase of 160 per cent on last year. It is due the next delivery of runny honey in July.

Joan Hardingham, owner of Alder Carr Farm in Creeting St Mary who is also a beekeeper, said: “We only sell the honey from one local beekeeper. He has managed to supply us no problem for year after year but now we have just run out.

“I used to have three hives and have lost two hives. Whether beekeepers manage to get their hives back up to good stocks remains to be seen.” Despite the current shortage, the farm stressed that it will get honey this summer.

However the Suffolk Beekeepers' Association is optimistic about the season ahead.

Laurie Wiseman from the association said: “It doesn't appear there will be losses this year like in the past. It is too early to tell yet. “Hopefully it will be back to normal this year.”

The dramatic decline in honeybee populations in the UK means that 80 per cent of honey is imported. Last year the survey by the British Beekeepers' Association revealed that nearly one in three of the UK's 240,000 honeybee hives did not survive the Winter and Spring.