With countryside and food events cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, beekeepers from across Wales have come together to make sure the public can still buy Welsh honey – and help Welsh bees in the process!
A map has been created which features several honey producers from across Wales who are registered with Cywain, and how to contact them: https://bit.ly/3aogeuQ
Also, honey lovers who buy a jar of Welsh honey during this period will get a bonus – a free wildflower seed pack to help boost Wales’ bee population.
Movement restrictions brought in to fight the spread of COVID-19 mean events, shows and markets have been cancelled – all of them important outlets for Welsh honey.
While some honey businesses already operate online shops, others – particularly micro-enterprises – have had to adapt their way of selling to the public quickly.
This has been achieved in several ways. Some have set up websites, or are taking orders by phone or email. Others are supplying their local shop, while a few have installed ‘honesty boxes’ at their back gates.
The map has been created by the Welsh Honey Cluster - a Welsh Government business development programme facilitated by Cywain which by providing sector-specific support aims to help Welsh honey businesses to create jobs and achieve sustainable economic growth.
Says Welsh Honey Cluster Lead, Haf Wyn Hughes, “Currently, like many in the food and drink sector, beekeepers are experiencing massive losses. But they are very resilient and innovative.
“The idea for the map came from the Cluster members who thought it would be a good idea to inform Welsh consumers where they are located.
“During this lockdown period, a lot of them have established their businesses to become online overnight, either through Facebook, Instagram etc. But what’s nice about this, is that while some still haven’t the capacity to become online, they are willing to receive an email order and move forward from there just to support their local customers.”
Ceredigion beekeeper Lynfa Davies runs Mêl Mynach near Aberystwyth. A small-scale honey producer, she hopes the map will help her reach existing and potential customers.
Says Lynfa, “The honey map has given me the opportunity to access my customers remotely. Also, it is really helpful in raising awareness of a product that is local and natural.
“Most of my customers have been by word of mouth, and I supply a couple of local tourist shops – but they are not open now, which is a big loss for me.
“I’m able to make local deliveries, on a case by case basis, and I can arrange where the best place is to drop off honey orders.”
The Pett family of Pant Derwen Apiary have been keeping bees for over 50 years. The business - which has hives across Bridgend and the Vale of Glamorgan - has established an online shop on its existing website (www.welsh-honey.com) and is making local deliveries.
Says 17-year-old Dafydd Pett, who is following in the beekeeping footsteps of his grandfather and father, “The honey shop section on our website is new. Previously, we didn’t sell our honey online; it was sold from the apiary and through local shops, delis etc. We also attended shows, fêtes and events, but these have either been cancelled, or we don’t yet know if they will go ahead.
“For me, the Honey Map is important as it gives consumers an idea of where they can get quality Welsh honey. In times like this, people are crying out for honey, and Welsh honey is a premium product.”
The honey producers featured on the map will be sending out wildflower seeds with their orders, courtesy of the Honey Cluster.
Explains Haf Hughes, “2020 was going to be a high-profile event year for the Honey Cluster. The seeds were going to be part of our events, so instead, we decided to offer a free wildflower pack with each purchase made during this period.
“The seeds are suitable for growing on Welsh soil, and by sowing them, consumers will also support local honey bees.”
Lesley Griffiths, the Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, said, “I am delighted that Welsh beekeepers are working together to find ways to make their honey accessible to consumers – particularly in these difficult times. This is good for honey producers and for the public who are keen to support local businesses.
“Bees play a vital role in maintaining our ecosystems, and the wildflower seed initiative will help bees thrive in Wales.”