There is a real buzz around St. Joseph’s Hospice, in Thornton Merseyside, which is now home to around 50,000 resident honeybees.
As well as being great for the local environment and conservation, as bees are nature’s best pollinators, the hospice hopes that the bees will eventually generate some fundraising income through the sale of its very own hospice honey.
Local beekeeper, John Ryan, who took up the hobby earlier this year, approached the hospice in April as he was looking for somewhere in the local area to start a new hive and knew that the 12 acres of woodland surrounding the hospice would be perfect.
As a nature lover and environmentalist, hospice chief executive, Mike Parr, thought it was a fantastic idea and was really excited about the opportunity. He said: “Bees are remarkable insects and they play a really important role in our diets as they pollinate most of fruit and vegetables we eat so they are vital for stable and healthy food supplies.
“Honey itself has always been regarded as a medicine. It has antiseptic properties and, historically, has been used for everything from sore throats and digestive problems to first aid treatment and even hay fever so I think a hospice, with all our beautiful woodland gardens, is the perfect place to have a bee hive.”
Beekeeper, John Ryan, says he knew of the hospice and its wonderful grounds and so it was the first place he called when he was ready to start beekeeping. He said: “Last year, I was looking around for a new hobby as I wanted to get my teeth in to something that would be fun and interesting. I also wanted a hobby that was productive and you can make loads of things from keeping bees, including honey, candles, mead.
He continued: “I joined the British Beekeepers Association and went on a beekeeping course, which was run by the Liverpool and Merseyside Beekeepers Association. It was great fun and the more I have learnt about bees the more fascinated I have become. They really are incredible creatures. I will be taking care of the new hospice bees and will make sure the hive establishes itself and that the bees are healthy. It’s a real responsibility looking after bees and I need to keep them safe and free from disease and predators.
John added: “Another great thing about taking up a new hobby is that it has opened up a whole new world of dad gifts for my children and grandchildren. You wouldn’t believe all the bee merchandise that you can get these days.”