Surbiton beekeeper seeks more space for hives as honey sales rise

A Surbiton beekeeper has asked his neighbours to house beehives due to the increasing popularity of Surbiton honey.

Sameer Ghai, 33, wants to build extra hives in Surbiton so he can produce more wax and honey and has offered 20 per cent of a hive’s honey yield to anyone who is happy to house one.

Ghai, who founded The London Bee Company which is based in Surbiton, said local honey has become more popular because every jar can be unique.

“Local honey isn’t treated or blended so it tastes very different to what you buy in the supermarket”, Ghai said.

If you harvested the hive today and then harvested it two weeks later you would get something that tastes very different.

You can see how it changes over the seasons, while when you pick something out of the supermarket it’s just a mix of everything so you lose the uniqueness.”

He said that some locals have also started buying it because they believe it can help with their hayfever.

They believe that if you’re eating local honey and thus taking in pollen from your local area you can build up a tolerance to it,” he said. 

Beehives can have populations of up to 70,000 in the summer months. Credit: The London Bee Company
Beehives can have populations of up to 70,000 in the summer months. Credit: The London Bee Company

Bees need a water source close by, as well as flowers to forage, but Ghai said even gardens that have neither could house a hive.

“Bees won’t forage in the immediate vicinity, so even if you have a pond in your own garden the likelihood of a bee foraging your pond is pretty low”, he said.

“You need to look around the area, within 200 or 300 metres of the hive.

“Bees will travel up to three miles anyway so they have quite a big range but obviously the closer things are to them the better, as long as they’re not too close.”

Ghai has 30 hives across south and south-west London, including Croydon, Twickenham and Vauxhall, and said surprisingly urban areas are good for bees.

“In urban areas a lot of people who have gardens like pretty flowers, a lot of which aren’t indigenous to the UK”, he said.

“They’ve come from all over which means there is a variety of nectar and pollen for the bees to visit and also the flowering period is a lot longer.”

‘The variety of flowers for the bees to forage is more diverse, so in some ways it’s better for the bees because it’s like having a varied diet.”

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