Chris’s honey is the bees’ knees!

A STALLHOLDER at Cleckheaton Farmer’s Market has received an award for his delectable honey.

Beekeeper Chris Holmes was awarded the Yorkshire Post Taste Awards’ “Best Preserve” category at the competition, which was held at York Food Festival last week.

The prize was presented to him by TV chef Rosemary Shrager at a ceremony in the city on Friday.

Chris, 46, started work as a meat inspector before going to teach at Leeds University.

However he decided on a complete career change after seeing his bee-keeping hobby, which he started eight years ago, snowball.

He now has more than 100 bee colonies at 20 sites, and runs the business with wife, Janet, mum, Susan and Janet’s children, Rachel and Andrew.

He said: “We started off with two colonies – that quickly became four, then eight. Before we knew it, we had more than 100! When you consider that there are 20 sites, all with different kinds of flowers nearby, and three seasons of honey production, we produce about 60 varieties. We get such positive feedback from people who buy our honey, and that means a lot.”

The past couple of years have been difficult with bee numbers depleting and worries that crops may not be pollenated, but Chris has seen his colonies grow, and has advice for budding beekeepers everywhere.

He said: “You have to work very hard to keep your hives healthy. Even though we have bee-inspectors, you have to react once you start to see a problem, such as the Veroa mite. Each bee colony is worth several hundred pounds, so it is worth doing!”

Chris, who lives in Flockton, also works as a ski-instructor in the winter, and says he now has the life he had always wanted, and plans to continue producing honey for many years.

He said: “I am living the dream – I have always wanted to be a beekeeper, and it’s great that I’m managing to make such a variety of different honeys and make a living off it.

“I was astonished when it was announced that I had won the award – I always wanted to have a small holding, and to produce things like this for a living. I have now acheived that.”

Anybody wanting a taste of Chris’s award-winning honey can visit his stall at Cleckheaton Farmers’ Market tomorrow.