Mêl Torfaen Honey


The Story So Far

Mêl Torfaen Honey Cyfyngedig started off as a hobby with two hives on an allotment in the Silwriaid village of Pontnewydd in Torfaen in South Wales some time back in the days of 2010.

Within about two years Steffan and Ian had increased the stocks and hives to about 10 hives. There were too many hives to fit onto an allotment so sites in the countryside were found to locate the extra hives. Time wore on and the stocks and hives kept on increasing. Ian began to feel it was getting a bit too much like work but Steffan enjoyed the beekeeping. Steffan was comfortable with the increases but Ian’s interest waned as a new opportunity to raise pigs with a local farmer and establish a fruit orchard in Monmouthshire became more attractive than larger scale beekeeping. Ian chose to favour the pigs and orchard. Steffan inherited most of the Hives and equipment that Ian no longer wanted. Having ended the original arrangement on amicabale terms, Steffan set about quietly increasing stocks and equipment for the next few years.

Day 1 Clearing

In the Summer of 2014 a premises became available in the Pont y pwl area. It was a Brown Field site that had not been used since the 1980’s. It was full of industrial dumped material from the days of the building of the new Dual Carriageway road system in Torfaen. Some 3,000 tonnes of rubble had been left untouched for 30 years. Nature had taken over and turned the site into a greened woodland. It was hardly possible to get in through the gate in July 2014. In July 2014 Garry and Steffan were given the keys and given permission to use the site for beekeeping. They moved 4 hives into the new Premises in Late August 2014 as a start.

We now look at our premises with amazment remembering the first day we got the keys. We had two shovels, a pick and two brushes, a strimmer and petrol pruning machine and bags of determination. We kept thousands of pictures of the clearing progress over the next year. Work was done on Summer evenings and Saturdays but always with determination. Work was slow and all with a pick and shovel.

In October 2014 we were offered help by Richard Murphy from Communities First Wales. We registered as a Social Enterprise and a Limited Company with Companies House in October 2014. Richard was very helpful and we owe a lot to the Communites First team.

In February 2015 Communities First offered us a small Grant of £250 and Cartrefi Melin Homes gave us a grant of £1,000 from the Tidy Towns Fund. We used this to hire an 8 tonne tracked earth digger and a 6 tonne swiveling dumper truck from C.E. Barnes Plant Hire in Bridgend. Friend Jerry Adams volunteered to manage the clearing of the site and worked with Steffan and Garry tirelessly over the next week with stunning results.

At the end of the Easter week we had moved 2,200 tons of Industrial rubble from the centre of the site and shifted it into a bund at the top end of the site. About 100 tonnes remained in the centre of the site with a two days hire to go when disaster struck and the plant broke down twice. Jerry cleared the site so that we could drive around the rubble like driving around a traffic island and the ‘island’ is still there to this day. However, we had turned a derelict site into a working yard for the first time in 30 + years. We took lots of photos of the machines during the Easter week

Garry and Steffan learned to drive a Dumper Truck under Jerrys’ tuition. He had the patience of a Saint and we are sure we tried it to the limit!

We were amazed at the size of the yard but there would remain a huge amount of work left to do after the Plant was gone and we are still working on improving the yard even today.

We acquired a tin shed and turned it into our first and only storage place and man cave with a gas stove for making sugar syrup to feed the bees and of course a cup of tea. Every man must have a man cave!

In Spring 2015 Tom Board from Keep Wales Tidy helped by finding us a work bench and woodworking tools. Later Keep Wales Tidy gave us a grant to improve the fencing on the site to make it a bit more secure. Environment Wales gave us a grant close to the same time of the Keep Wales Tidy grant. Over the Summer of 2015 we held a number of events at the yard with 6 groups attending Honey Bee experience days where they had a chance to put on a bee suit and open up a hive and feed and inspect the bees under the guidance of Garry and Steffan.

By arrangement with Torfaen Council Mel Torfaen rescued many honey bee swarms and Bumble Bee Colonies from all over Torfaen through Summer 2015 and 2016.

One of our most memorable jobs was Bees in a chimney in Oakdale in Cwmbrân. The photos make our hair stand on end now as it was quite a dangerous job. Garry had been stung many a time but as every beekeeper knows there is something know as the 'Golden Sting'.

In Spring 2016, after huge help from Richard Murphy at Communities first and Steve Williams, Ecologist at Torfaen Council, we won a £5,000 Big Lottery grant which has served to help expand the Honey production ability of the company enormously.

In late May 2016, in the Monmouthshire countryside Garry was stung once. Minutes later he went into Anaphalactic shock. Steffan rushed him to hospital in the nick of time arriving at Neuadd Nefil hospital in Y Fenni A & E department just as he passed out. Garry was in the RESUS ward overnight, recovered and was discharged the following evening.

As Garry was being discharged the following evening Steffan had a very busy day collecting 6 swarms throughout the day. The last one was in Birch Grove in Malpas, Casnewydd / Newport at about 6 pm in the evening. Unfortunatley, the swarm was high up in a tree, Steffan was 16’ up a ladder, the ladder twisted and Steffan fell and fractured 4 ribs. He was lucky not to have been killed. This event put Steffan in The Royal Gwent Hospital where he was cared for by NHS Angels for 11 days (Thanks to Lyn - Nurse on the mens ward). The next six months were spent getting over the accident.

In November of 2016 Mêl Torfaen Honey cyf. arranged a Skep Making course with Mrs Judy Hartley, LLanllywel as the Tutor. It was well attended and we hear that many more people have signed up to learn how to make Skeps and no wonder because Judy is a Marvellous teacher! You may have seen Judy in action in May 2017 at the Bees For Development day in Monmouth town.

So here we are in Summer 2017. We continue to Build the Buzz. We still rescue Bumble Bees where possible, when not really feasable we can put you in touch with people who can help. We rescue swarms of Honey Bees, attend markets, craft fairs, church bazaars and school fetes selling honey and candles. So ring us if you have a venue available for us to sell Honey, or you have a swarm - see services page.

We are working on producing Mead and Melomel (Alcohol Licensing pending) – Sorry to those of you who wanted to buy Mead form us last Christmas. We had samples on the stall but could not sell it to you because we were waiting to get our licenses inplace before being allowed to sell Alchohol. Maybe by Christmas 2017 !!!

Perhaps we may see you this Summer at an event. Come and buy some Honey from Mêl Torfaen Honey cyfyngedig your local Beekeeping company.


Mêl Torfaen Honey Cyfyngedig

FacebookFacebook                                  Twitter    Twitter