Beekeeping in Sussex: What it is like to be a beekeeper

Danny Cutts started beekeeping in 2018, what started as one hive has grown into a collection of hives and selling honey.

In 2018 Danny and his wife Jane decided to invest more seriously. They bought a property with a small parcel of land, but they didn’t know what to do with it until a local pub landlord suggested keeping bees.

“After many hours on YouTube and lots of research, I decided that it was something I was willing to give a go,” explained Danny, who lives in Middleton on Sea.

Sign up to our daily SussexWorld Today newsletter

“The first year was relatively easy as not much really happened, but I had to learn on the job in the second year.”

Danny and his daughter Madeleine

That is where The Elmer Honey Co journey began. Danny now has two apiaries, a collection of bee hives.

“The first apiary was great and it is where I discovered my love for beekeeping,” said Danny.

“Beekeeping is addictive, and I always thought five hives would be plenty. Still, the nature of beekeeping means that every year that passes, your numbers increase, and then you catch a few swarms, and suddenly you are at 15 hives.”

Danny explains that honey tastes different from apiary to apiary, hive to hive depending on what the bees have been foraging on.

Wild comb cut to fit hive frames

Even though they sell honey, Danny admits he doesn’t like it himself.

He said: “I have never liked its taste, my wife and family love it and so they are very happy taste testers.”

Beekeeping is much like farming with lots of factors affecting honey production which makes every year unpredictable.

Danny said: “Normally if you can extract twice a year, one in May/June and then again in late August, it is a good year. But last year, it was so damp and windy that honey production was so down that I only extracted once, and the crop was not of a good size.

A jar of The Elmer Honey Co

“However, this year we have already had a lovely first crop, and if the weather holds out for us, we may get three crops this year, but that can all change.

“This will be our first year seeing how many hives we can manage and pushing to see if we can take this from a hobby to maybe something a bit more. We will also find out whether we actually want to make it into something more.”

His advice for anyone who wants to keep bees is to get on a course with a local association and get some bees.

He added: “Paul Hartfield has been guiding me, and he even came along to help me catch my first swarm and point me in the right direction as there is so much to learn. I once called Paul to explain that I think I may have a queenless colony and when he arrived to help me go through the hive, we found five virgin queens in the same hive, which he had never experienced himself.

“Paul has been on the end of the phone when I have had to cut the wild comb out of hedges and when I have been so frustrated that I want to quit. He has guided me to get where I am now.

“Out of all the avenues to get into beekeeping, having a mentor, in my opinion, is essential.”

Read More

Read More
Michelin Guide 2022: These are the 16 Michelin recommended restaurants in West S...