6 ISSUES FOR £6 Subscribe to Kent Life today CLICK HERE

Day in the life of a Kentish beekeeper

PUBLISHED: 10:21 10 July 2018

Beekeeper Matthew Noakes (photo: Manu Palomeque)

Beekeeper Matthew Noakes (photo: Manu Palomeque)

Manu Palomeque 07977074797

How beekeeper Matthew Noakes' hobby turned into a passion - and helped his hayfever too

Tell us about you

I’ve been keeping bees for 11 years. It came about because I suffered from hay fever and I found that, although eating local honey isn’t a cure, it is certainly a help. It started as a hobby with a single hive but by the second year I had five hives. During the third year I made an arrangement with a local fruit farmer to place hives in his orchards – bees play an important part in pollination in fruit farming – and by my fourth year I had 50 hives.

Tending to the bees (photo: Manu Palomeque)Tending to the bees (photo: Manu Palomeque)

That went up to more than 100 at one point. At the moment I have about 80 hives and I intend adding more gradually. Each hive averages 40,000 bees – that is a lot of bees! Bees are wonderful; when they are happy and contented they work hard. Surely that should apply to any workforce? Bees are also natural therapists and watching them communicate and cooperate puts life into perspective.

I am passionate about bees, they play an enormously important role in relation to food, farming, gardening and the environment in general.

Albert Einstein is quoted as saying that if honey bees were to disappear from earth, humans would be dead within four years.

Honey (Photo: Manu Palomeque)Honey (Photo: Manu Palomeque)

The core business?

Bee keeping and producing honey from happy bees, directly benefitting the environment.

Honey in jars (photo: Manu Palomeque)Honey in jars (photo: Manu Palomeque)

Tell us about the farm

We have about 16 acres. The property was purchased by my grandfather in 1945 and he set up as a smallholder. We were the first in the area to build apple stores and my grandfather rented space out to local fruit farmers.

Ready to sell (photo: Manu Palomeque)Ready to sell (photo: Manu Palomeque)

Later on he extended into building apple stores for neighbouring farmers and later still he diversified into cold storage. We sold the business in 2008 but retained the land and we still have a small Bramley orchard.

People ask if Wishfield Honey is heather or organic or Manuka. I call it ‘hedgerow honey’ because the bees choose which flowers to visit and their welfare is paramount.

Keeping the bees calm (photo: Manu Palomeque)Keeping the bees calm (photo: Manu Palomeque)

Describe a typical working day

Beekeeping is very seasonally related. During the spring, before the bees get busy, a lot of my time is occupied repairing and cleaning equipment and related jobs.

Early summer my days are involved in swarm control. Autumn is the main harvest time and getting the bees ready for winter. My working days are generally long – seven to nine hours in the spring, 10 to 12 in the summer increasing to as much as 14 to 16 hours during the harvesting period.

Extracting (photo: Manu Palomeque)Extracting (photo: Manu Palomeque)

Early in the New Year is the quietest time and then I can get something of a break.

How do you market?

At the weekends I attend a couple of farmers’ markets and coming up to Christmas involves shows and fairs. I also get word-of-mouth enquiries by phone.

The hive (photo: Manu Palomeque)The hive (photo: Manu Palomeque)

We are very fortunate here in Kent, the Garden of England, it’s such a very fertile and productive part of the UK.

There are a lot of small food producers in the area and they make some outstanding products. It is vitally important to support ‘local’ because it benefits the economy, it’s good for community relations, reduces carbon footprint and is environmentally positive.

Busy bees (photo: Manu Palomeque)Busy bees (photo: Manu Palomeque)

Any famous clients?

One client bought honey because she was expecting a visit from Prince Charles!

I am sure other famous people have enjoyed the honey but I don’t know who; I would love to hear from them.

Matthew at work (photo: Manu Palomeque)Matthew at work (photo: Manu Palomeque)

Marks out of 10?

It is a 10. I absolutely love what I do.

Children following in your footsteps?

No – I am not married. The bees take up all my time.

Get in touch

Wishfield Honey, Star Veden, Horsmonden TN12 8AY

01892 722682

More from People

Wherever you go in Kent you'll find people just like us pounding the streets, parks and waterways. So why are we all running?

Read more
May 2019

Nicola Leverington, aka the Wedding Dress Surgeon, on achieving the perfect fit and her new training courses

Read more
May 2019

Fine Art graduate Arianne Mills on having quite possibly the best job in Kent

Read more
April 2019
Monday, April 15, 2019

With Royal British Legion Industries celebrating its centenary this year, we look at how the Royal British Legion village in Aylesford supports veterans through employment

Read more
April 2019
Monday, April 8, 2019

Plastic pollution is spoiling our beautiful coastline and damaging wildlife, but we can all do our bit to help

Read more
March 2019
Monday, April 8, 2019

Are your pre-school children getting enough outdoor play? Kent Wildlife Trust's new Nature Tots course could be just the solution

Read more
March 2019

Meet our 2018 Junior Collector Cameron Jarvis, 11, whose passion is for all things turtle related

Read more
April 2019

The influence of Van Gogh's time teaching in Ramsgate is reflected in the art he produced as a professional painter, now on show at Tate Britain

Read more
April 2019

Chris Wiggins on how his childhood love of horses and the outdoors led to the career he loves

Read more
March 2019
Thursday, March 14, 2019

Jamie Cullum will be showcasing songs from his new album at the Cheltenham Jazz Festival - and it's going to be emotional

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory
Kent Life Food & Drink awards. Open for entries.

Subscribe or buy a mag today


subscription ad


Follow us on Twitter


Like us on Facebook


Local Business Directory

Search For a Car In Your Area

Property Search

Most Read

Latest from the Kent Life