Hive of activity from 50,000 Leeds city centre residents

hive article

It's a very exclusive brand from the heart of Leeds city centre.

But you won't find Wellington Place honey on supermarket shelves - as just 20 pots of the golden liquid have been handed out.

The honey is the produce of 50,000 tireless honey bees, which work from five hives near the banks of the River Aire.

By a happy coincidence, the riverside is infested with a weed called Himalayan balsam, which the bees just love.

Hive of Activity

The hives are run by the Yorkshire Beekeeping Association but have been provided by the developers MEPC, who put up the buildings at Wellington Place.

Because of the difficult economy, the developers have had to stall major plans for Wellington Place and in the meantime, have turned the land into useful green space.

MEPC has planted grass and bulbs, installed benches, encouraged football matches and even provided deckchairs for local workers.

And beehives were one of their green initiatives.

MEPC spokeswoman Dominique Simcox said: "Our initiatives have been a great success and the Yorkshire beekeepers have provided us with some honey and beekeeping lessons in lieu of rent.

"We are giving pots of it away to some of our business friends. Children from Stanley Grove School in Wakefield had a competition to design a label for the honey."

Bill Cadmore, chairman of the Yorkshire Beekeeping Association, said the hives had done well and had produced about 30lbs of honey each last season.

He said: "That was a great result and we expect an even bigger crop this year. The bees like Himalayan balsam almost more than anything else.

"As a biologist I would say it was an invasive weed which should be destroyed. But as a beekeper, I think it's a wonderful thing!

"It produces a clear, pale yellow-green honey which is very sweet and quite floral."

The beekepers have given office workers induction courses in their art at lunchtimes and they say they are inundated with people wanting to take up the hobby.

He added: "We cannot supply enough bees for them all. However, our bee stocks, which had been hit by a parasite, have recovered well because of the good weather we had last spring."

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