Visit to the National Beekeeping Centre Wales
I seem to be doing lots of beekeeping related things at the moment – other than actually doing any husbandry of my own bees of course! Tuesday was the beekeeping photo competition, then we’ll be Skep making on Sunday and on Wednesday a few members of the Aberystwyth Beekeeping Association visited the National Beekeeping Centre Wales, which is next to Bodnant Gardens near Conwy in North Wales.
We’d been invited to attend as part of the official opening of the centre so I travelled up with John and Richard and met a few other members there. I wasn’t really sure what to expect, but we were treated to a talk about the formation of the centre, why it has come into existence and its aspirations for the future. It all seemed very optimistic and promising.
The centre itself is a small leased unit as part of the very impressive Bodnant Welsh Food Centre. This has been created from the remnant of a dairy farm and has been immaculately converted. It includes a large cafe, and outdoor courtyard, a well stocked farm shop and some impressive kitchens in which the run courses and demonstrations. The whole place is new and parts are still under development but it all looks and feels very well finished.
The complex also has conference rooms a restaurant and other facilities. The Beekeeping Centre itself has a small but well fitted room with various displays about bees and beekeeping, along with a large screen showing a live feed from a webcam situated outside one of their hives. Again, it’s all very well done.
We were first treated to tea and coffee and some delicious cakes – all made with honey of course and then had an interesting talk about the formation of the centre. The idea is that it is to become a hub for beekeeping in Wales, offering, education, training, support and research for beekeepers in Wales and beyond. It is very much in the formative stages with resources at the moment focussed on building and forging links with all interested parties – Hence our invite as beekeepers from a local beekeeping association. There were also members of government departments there, representatives from various bodies concerned with the environment, beekeeping and agriculture and a wide range of other people there too.
Questions were raised about the potential source of funding and income generation for the continued success of the project, but it does seem as though they have the right people in place to at least make the most of what is available. All in all it looked very promising and will be interesting to see it develop. I for one would be keen to attend courses and such like there and can’t wait to go back – This time to sample some more of the delights on offer in the cafe restaurant and farm shop and maybe for a chance to see Bodnant gardens as well… I can see a weekend of cooking, gardening and good food coming on soon.
We had a little look at their apiary as well whilst we were there. It only has a few hives in it at the moment but they are hoping to expand it soon and will use it for teaching and education.