Why Alex would be an effective mentor

  • Alex Ellis has direct experience of developing and growing Border Honey, now one of the largest bee farming businesses in Wales.  This compliments his much broader experience within the commercial beekeeping sector and the general beekeeping industry, through his role with the Bee Farmers’ Association (BFA) and, latterly, as a founding director of The Beekeeping Show (a UK tradeshow event). 
  • He is actively involved with initiatives within Wales in the wider food and drink sector, including Cywain (which has included provision of mentoring/consultancy support for industry peers) and the Food and Drink Wales Honey Cluster.
  • An underpinning theme of many aspects of his role with the BFA has been knowledge sharing – as editor of Bee Farmer magazine, establishment of knowledge exchange groups, and through organising professional development activities and events for beekeepers. A confident communicator and good listener, Alex – who was formerly involved with further education – is looking forward to sharing his knowledge and experience with developing beekeeping businesses.

Current farm business

  • Border Honey was formed in 2014, providing consultancy services within the apiculture industry alongside primary production and sale of honey through direct retail channels (farmers’ markets, food festivals, etc). Since then, the business has grown its output, producing, and selling 
  • 10+ tonnes of honey in bulk from its 250+ colonies (hives) during 2023. 
  • Continually growing, the company is now one of the largest honey producers based in Wales and within the top 50 in the whole of the UK Keen and ambitious, Alex’s next aim is for Border Honey to be within the top 20 within the next three years!. 
  • In 2016, relocation to a live-work site created the opportunity to expand primary production activities and, in 2017, funding was secured through Welsh Government’s Food Business Investment Scheme (FBIS) to establish a bulk honey processing facility, as production and supply of bulk honey to specialist honey packers and food manufacturing businesses was seen as a key opportunity. 
  • As a Welsh honey business, Border Honey remains uniquely focused on increasing supply chain availability of Welsh/British honey in bulk to meet demand from industry customers, rather than development of its own consumer retail brand. 
  • The UK’s departure from the EU had the practical consequence of reducing availability of livestock for UK apiculture industry needs (changes to import regulations). Seeing this as a potential diversification opportunity, in 2022, Border Honey became a partnership (family business), and Alex’s partner, Nicky, joined the company to establish a commercial-scale queen bee production unit. One of just a few specialist producers in the UK, the business now raises livestock for sale to mainly professional and some hobbyist customers. An e-commerce website was launched to support this activity and ‘Border’ was trademarked to protect the brand in the relevant categories. 
  • In April 2023, Border Honey took on its first employee as a full-time apprentice (the couple’s daughter, Ros) and thus a second generation of the family is now involved in activities, with a view to future succession.

Qualifications/achievements/ experience 

  • Degree in Graphic Design
  • Postgraduate Certificate in Education 
  • Postgraduate Certificate in Management
  • British Beekeepers’ Association (BBKA) Master Beekeeper
  • Various other relevant practical qualifications – eg, Food Safety, HACCP


  • Beekeeper for 20 years
  • Membership Services Officer for the Bee Farmers’ Association (BFA) 
  • 2014-2023; key activities included: founder and editor of Bee Farmer magazine, BFA coordinator of ADAS/BFA Knowledge Exchange Groups project, organiser of professional development visits in both UK and Europe, BFA coordinator for Apha/BFA Disease Assurance Scheme for Honeybees (DASH). Into 2024, Alex’s focus within BFA is on project development.
  • Director of Bee Craft Magazine 2017-2022 (Chief Executive Officer 2019-2022)
  • Founding Director of The Beekeeping Show 2023
  • Member of the Food & Drink Wales Honey Cluster since its inception

Successful funding applications in support of business growth to:

  • Welsh Government Food Business Investment Scheme (FBIS) 2017 
  • Welsh Government Food Business Accelerator Scheme (FBAS) 2023
  • Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust (QEST) Apprenticeships Fund

Top tips for business success

“Working in a collaborative and supportive manner pays off in establishing sustainable business relationships.”
“Look outside your own industry sector to see what might be learnt from others.”