A COLONY of thousands of honeybees evicted from the brickwork of a Grade II listed building has been transformed from pests to prize winners.

The insects caused alarm in August when they invaded the external wall of Elmfield Hall in Gatty Park, Church.

It is estimated between 5,000 and 8,000 bees had made their home just below the roof of the building, which was constructed in the 1850s.

The colony was spotted after it began sending out swarms of bees from the restricted space.

The honeybees had entered the property through an air brick sitting above the second floor of Elmfield Hall, just below the height of the roof.

It is believed the colony had been in the space for at least two seasons as they were well-established within the air brick, having both food stores of pollen and capped honey built up.

The queen bee was newly mated, meaning the bees would have very quickly built up to a population of 20,000 if left as she can lay up to 1,500 eggs per day.

The colony was successfully extracted and relocated to hives at a nearby apiary in a collaborative effort between Hyndburn Council, Community Solutions North West and Pendle Environmental Services.

Now the wax combs and honey that were removed from the airbrick have won first prize at the East Lancashire Beekeepers Society’s Honey Show.

The products from Elmfield Hall were entered into the ‘Blind Taste’ category and presented in a blacked-out jar for assessment by taste alone.

Despite the tough competition, the Elmfield Hall samples came out on top and won first prize, much to the delight of everyone involved in the original extraction process.

Maggie Moody, chief executive of Community Solutions North West, said: “It is just wonderful to see such a positive ending to this story.

"We were really pleased with how smoothly the extraction of the live colony went originally and we can confirm that the bees have settled into their new apiary, building numbers and generally thriving in their new home.

"To have the honey – a leftover product from Elmfield Hall that would have otherwise been disposed of – win first prize is just the icing on the cake!”

The relocation team from converted the wax combs and honey into jars which made them eligible for entering the Lancashire Beekeepers Society’s Annual Honey Show.