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TEL : Julie on 07557 105495

ADDRESS : 75 Head Lane, Great Cornard, Sudbury CO10 0JS

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Busy Bees Cosmetics

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    Going Into 2024

    2023 was an eventful one for us and the bees.

    Every year is different in beekeeping, mainly because the weather is but we are also seeing a change in the forage available for the bees. Last year there was very little oil seed rape available but the bees brought in a lot of Hawthorn honey instead, much darker and a much stronger flavour. Instead of Oil Seed Rape there was a lot of Beans which meant the spring harvest was a month later than usual, as this flowers in June. Borage used to be planted mainly in Essex but this crop is being planted in Suffolk with fields in Little Cornard, Newton Green and Newmans Green. The bees love Borage and will fly long distances to get it. Borge produces prolific amounts of nectar with the flowers needing only a few minutes to recharge and replace the nectar taken. The honey is almost clear and has a very delicate flavour which many people love.

    Farmers are now planting many wildflowers and the bees are thriving on these. These give sources of pollen and nectar at times when there is often a dearth of food for the bees.

    The previous winter was hard on the bees and winter losses were around 30% across the region, our losses were in line with this. Our bees were also hit with Chronic Bee Paralysis Virus which killed a further 20% in the summer. Fortunately, we were able to create plenty of new colonies during May to largely make up these losses.

    In February we attended our first trade show in Telford to reach out to beekeepers and Beefarmers across the UK promoting our beeswax cosmetics. A significant number of new customers were interested in adding our beeswax products to their honey stalls making the trip very worthwhile and we now work with 30 beekeepers in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales. Around half wanted their own bee business name and logo on their labels, which Julie was able to work with our local Printers thanks to design work previously completed developing our wedding favours. This has also expanded into producing honey and cosmetics as corporate gifts.

    Julie spent a lot of time developing a hand / foot and face cream recipe as a new product which is proving very popular. It took time to be happy with the recipe as early versions had an oily feel. The addition of Borage oil, vitamin E oil and propolis got us to a final recipe that we are very happy with.

    As a result of all this, Roxie who makes our cosmetics is working more hours to keep up with demand.

    Julie is still enjoying delivering our honey range, merchandising in some of our shops and building relationships with our retail customers and talking to lots of beekeepers on the telephone.

    We are delighted to supply Perrywood Garden Centre in Sudbury and Tiptree with honey from our hives at Sudbury and to work with them on their new Perrywood Honey label.

    In October we were asked by the Beefarmers Association to be their featured Beefarmer in the Association Magazine. We were delighted to invite the editor to our home to be interviewed and we were delighted by the 6 page feature.

    During the year Kevin had been feeling more tired than usual and in October a trip by Ambulance to Papworth Hospital got to the bottom of the cause – a dicky ticker not pumping blood strongly enough. Now medicated and with a few lifestyle changes, the doctors do not think that his beekeeping should be affected. This has meant he is behind with his beekeeping – some hives still have honey on – but aims to be back on top of things by the spring.

    For this year we plan to attend the Beekeeping show in Telford again in February and Roxie is increasing her hours further to help Kevin in the honey house. Kevin is doing more talks nationally with the Bee Improvement and Bee Breeders Association talking about bees and the business of beekeeping. Combining his knowledge of beekeeping and business to help those looking to start out and develop their beekeeping businesses,

    Another year has flown by and we are very grateful for all the support and interest in our bees.

    Wishing you a happy and healthy 2024.

    Kevin and Julie Thorn

    Stour Valley Apiaries Suffolk Honey
    Busy Bees Cosmetics - Wholesale Beekeepers

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