AN EAST LANCASHIRE fibre optic installation firm says its latest network is going from strength to strength because of the coronavirus lockdown.

Bosses at Networx3 introduced a beehive at its headquarters in Great Harwood just before the lockdown and believe the bees are now flourishing thanks to the UK’s ‘stay at home’ policy.

The 7,000-strong colony of bees is only 20 feet away from the company’s car park in Alan Ramsbottom Way and surrounded by native wildflowers and hedgerow.

Networx3 founder and managing director Ian Ashworth said: “It might seem a strange place to establish a beehive – the middle of an industrial estate in Lancashire – but we wanted to do our bit to bring bees back from the brink.

“They’re in a place where they’re safe, hidden from view and they’re clearly loving it here.

“As a company we are very environmentally aware and passionate about protecting wildlife so having a beehive on our premises sits well with our core values.

“Myself, and all the staff, can’t wait for the first jar of Networx3 honey later this year.”

The growing colony forages on early tree pollen in the adjoining clough, as well as fields and gardens within a three-mile radius.

The company believes the colony is thriving partly due to the knock-on effects of the pandemic. A cut in the exhaust fumes caused by traffic means bees pick up the scent of flowers more easily and a reduction in mowing roadside verges means bee-friendly wildflowers are flourishing.

At the end of August the honey will be harvested, with the hive capable of producing a bumper crop of up to 45lbs of honey – enough to fill 55 jam jars.

The hive, which is expected to swell to 40,000-strong at its peak later this year, was set up by Accrington bee-lover Steve Llewellyn, who checks its progress weekly and introduced a queen bee.

Mr Llewellyn said: “Bees are at work 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

"They don’t sleep. As soon as the sun is up and it’s warm enough they’ll be out foraging.