The bees of Hughenden

The bee project at Hughenden helps look after honey bees when modern threats of the varroa mite, reduced forage and predators such as the Asian hornet are making life difficult for wild bees.

Hughenden’s apiary

In Hughenden’s parkland there is a working apiary that you can visit and a dedicated team of expert volunteer beekeepers who look after the bees. This year we are pleased to have five active hives.

The beekeepers regularly monitor the honeybees and manage the hives to keep the colonies healthy and happy. They also produce a range of hive products including beeswax candles and delicious honey. The products are available to take home in exchange for a donation and every purchase helps to maintain the Hughenden apiary.

Meet the beekeepers

In spring and summer we hold regular Meet the Beekeeper events where visitors can look into a full size model hive, see how it works and try out the specialist equipment such as honey extractors and smokers, without the fear of being stung. Younger visitors can have fun too, trying on beekeeping equipment and following a bee trail.

And if you’re inspired to add bee-friendly plants in your garden, pick up a plant list guide at one of the sessions along with a seed packet to get you started.

Vital role

Many large country houses kept bees when sugar was still very expensive and with their vital role in increasing crop yields they were also an important part of the ‘Dig for Victory’ campaign during the Second World War. Beekeepers were given sugar rations to feed the bees with over winter.

Disraeli’s bees

In early Victorian times bees were kept in straw ‘skeps’ which were burnt to gain access to the honey, often destroying the colony in the process. The late 19th century saw a revelation in beekeeping when the hive with removable wooden frames was invented.

Hughenden Manor had bee hives to help to increase the yields of the walled garden and fruit trees, as well as to provide sweetness for the kitchen. Trees, flowers, weeds and crops can all provide pollen or nectar for honeybees and the old types of rose Mary Ann Disraeli planted in the parterre were ideal as were the flowering herbs in the walled garden.

Disraeli appears to have been knowledgeable about bees...

" The nation, in a state of anarchy and dissolution, then becomes a people; and after experiencing all the consequent misery, like a company of bees spoiled of their queen and rifled of their hive, they set to again and establish themselves into a society."
- Benjamin Disraeli