Steffan was delighted when four years ago park owners Johnsey Estates allowed him to place the initial hives on the isolated spot surrounded by wildflowers and bushes.
“We placed hives here in 2015. Over that time the number has grown to nine hives. There’s probably a limit of 10 hives for the space. I really hope we can retain this location for our bees as it’s perfect for bee keeping surrounded, as it is, by everything that bees like, countryside, grassland, bushes, trees, wildflowers vegetation and peace.
“It’s wonderful that we’re allowed to keep bees on the park and underlines the owner’s environmental awareness and desire to be green in all sorts of ways, not just by adopting ‘traditional’ measures.”
Steffan, a supply teacher who lives in Pontypool, now splits his time between work and bee keeping as part of Mel Torfaen Honey, a bilingual social enterprise not-for-profit company.
The hives at Mamhilad Park Estate probably number some 500,000 bees. Each hive can produce 50lbs or more of honey each harvest. Steffan, who has been keeping bees for more than a decade, said: “This a good site here at Mamhilad. It’s safe and secure. Security is a key issue. It’s undisturbed and is surrounded by wildflowers and vegetation.”
“The bees are extremely happy here. You know that due to their productivity. They’ve been on this spot since they first arrived.
“There was an initial idea to place the hives on the roof of the tall buildings but although this can work in cities where you have lifts, it isn’t practical on this site as all the trays and equipment are very heavy to lug up and down 20 flights of stairs.
“I have received all sorts of lovely comments from people who have noticed the hives and said how wonderful it is to know that there are these bee hives on site.
“It all adds to the environmentally friendly feel to the place. I like to consider myself as working in a beautiful factory called nature.
“We carried out a full risk assessment ahead of siting the hives here. There is no risk to occupiers from the bees which are well away from any offices or where people may gather.
“Bees just get on doing their thing as long as they aren’t disturbed. Our site here is undoubtedly one of the best sites and it’s closest to our base in Pontymoile so it’s extremely handy for our honey business.
“We are currently looking for an inexpensive, 30m by 20m unit in which to expand our business. We’d really love to find something like that here at Mamhilad Park Estate as that would be our dream.
“The environment here is almost perfect with the all the range of trees and flowers. I’m speaking with Mamhilad Park Estate about setting aside areas for some strategic planting as I am able to obtain wildflower seed in bulk.”
Russell Nutman, Johnsey Estates’ property manager, said: “We’re very pleased to have these hives on the park. It is great addition to our green environment. It’s wonderful to know the trees, shrubs and flowers are being pollinated by the bees who take nectar back to the hive to make Mamhilad Park Estate honey.”