DARWEN beekeeper Bob Fulton is buzzing with delight after receiving accolades at this year’s Blackburn Beekeeping Association’s awards.

The awards, held at Samlesbury War Memorial Hall, saw 78-year-old Bob win first prize for his medium honey and honey gathered this year, and second prize for light honey and a frame of honey. Bob, a keen beekeeper of 40 years, said: “I got a bottle of mead and ten quid – it was great!”

On how he began keeping bees, he said: “My wife started it when our youngest kids went to school. “She was fed up so she went to the library and got a book on it and that’s it. When one of the family gets into something, then so does everyone else.”

Now Bob takes on classes of people interested in learning the art of apiary.

He said: “Some people sell the honey they make, but I can’t be bothered selling it on a personal basis.

“My main concern is teaching people how to look after bees – it’s so important.”

Bob receives grants from the Darwen and Rural Neighbourhood Board with which to purchase equipment, and has stalls at Darwen Market selling his wares, the profits of which go to funding his lessons. He said: “We get all sorts of people coming – we’ve had an airline pilot, a police inspector, a fire brigade chief, all sorts.

“It’s like going on the big dipper: just take the leap.

“I’ve had such positive feedback and am always on the end of the line when people need advice with their bees.” Students meet at Bob’s apiary on Pole Lane, where he now has 14 hives, each containing 60,000 bees.

“You can’t underestimate how important the bee population is, especially now we’ve had such a bad year – it’s rained and rained, so the bees can’t get out, and when they do they can’t do anything.”

Despite the poor weather, a dampener will not be put on the lessons.

Bob said: “It is generally an outdoor pursuit but if it’s raining, there’s plenty of indoor things we can do, there’s always more to learn.”

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