Hobby beekeeper Gerrard Rangeley has 30,000 honeybees in his back garden and is planning to grow his collection to ONE MILLION.
The Shelley beekeeper loves his pastime so much that he wants to increase the number of bees from 30,000, which is normal for a back garden, to something approaching a million, which would be quite unusual.
He says his plans pose no danger to neighbours and “everyone will get their flowers pollinated.”
Gerrard has also rented land at a nearby reservoir where he plans to establish even more bee colonies.
He has been breeding and selling bees for over three years but has yet to take the hobby to the honey-producing stage.
Gerrard, 38, who works as a security guard, hopes to have his first honey yield this summer.
He contacted the Examiner to let people know that Shelley Bees offers a free ‘pest control’ service to help anyone wanting to get rid of a swarm of bees.
Recovering bee colonies is, he says, fairly straightforward and involves a Henry vacuum cleaner, a container and the all-important smock and veil to stop the stings.
Back in 2013 he paid £170 for around 8,000 bees, including a Queen honeybee, and his back garden apiary grew from there.
With careful nurturing, the number of bees grew to around 50,000 but has since reduced.
The self-taught beekeeper is busy with creating a second apiary on nearby moorland.
“I breed and sell bees to other beekeepers,” he said.
“I have people coming from all over England to buy the bees and this year I am going to expand the apiary. I also offer advice and an after-care service to customers.
“I haven’t done any honey yet but I am planning to do that this year.”
Gerrard, who is a member of Huddersfield Bee Keeping Association, says that encouraging bee colonies to grow is more than a hobby because without them crops would not be pollinated.
Farmers and orchard owners are among his customers.
“I sold a colony to a lady on a farm who now wants another three. She has some moorland and wants them to pollinate the heather. She wants to make ‘heather honey’ which is thicker honey than other kinds. I think it’s an acquired taste.
“I am trying to help the honeybee so they are not at risk of dying out. Bees pollinate a large percentage of the food crops we eat.”
The downside to beekeeping is, of course, getting stung – and Gerrard has lost count of the stings he’s had.
But he insists that most bees are not aggressive, only “nosey and curious” and won’t sting unless threatened.
“A lot of people are scared of bees, mainly because they think they are like wasps which are more aggressive. You can have a beehive in your garden and it will be fine if you look after it.”
His advice to any would-be beekeeper is “do your homework” and meet a beekeeper before taking up the hobby.