First honey harvest is a sweet success for a Shropshire hotel

Staff at a Shropshire hotel are buzzing after taking delivery of their first batch of home-grown honey.

Jennifer Sibbald-Wall in front of some of the Albrighton's bee hives
Jennifer Sibbald-Wall in front of some of the Albrighton’s bee hives

The four-star Mercure Shrewsbury Albrighton Hall Hotel and Spa, which is managed by Focus Hotels, installed five hives within its 15-acre grounds last year.

Queen bees were then introduced, followed by the young earlier this year, and the process of producing the hotel’s own honey began.

General Manager Jennifer Sibbald-Wall said: “We bought lots of wildflower seeds and invited any children who stayed at the hotel to throw the seeds out.

“The hives have names, like Bee Happy and Bee Successful, and our bees certainly have been, judging by the quality and quantity of the honey they have produced.”

A local business, the Ellesmere Honey Company, which is a member of the Bee Farmers Association, manages the hives for the hotel and ensures that the bees are healthy, supported by the hotel’s own maintenance manager Matt Rice, who tends the hives on a day-to-day basis.

Jennifer said: “We have around 6,000 bees on site now, and Ellesmere told us that the amount of honey produced on our grounds was very high, and that the quality was also very high, which we were delighted to hear.

“We learned that a single bee flies the equivalent of going around the world two-and-a-half times in order to produce one spoon of honey, which is amazing.

“Our first yield has produced more than 100 pots altogether.”

Installing the hives was just one of a number of initiatives the Albrighton has undertaken as part of an ambitious sustainable development programme.

Thanks to its own 24-tree orchard, which was planted by members of the Albrighton team, the hotel has already produced its own jam, chutney and compote.

A rockery was transformed into a thriving herb garden, supplying safe, rosemary thyme, oregano, fennel, chives and others, which are used in the hotel’s meals, as well as using freshly grown mint in its drinks.

Now the Albrighton can add honey production to its menu of achievements.

Last year, the hotel finished runner-up in the Accor European Planet 21’s Best Rural Garden category, and also achieved Planet 21 Platinum status.

The Planet 21 programme demonstrates Accor’s ambitious goals based around four strategic priorities: work with its employees, involve its customers, innovate with its partners and work with local communities.

Jennifer added: “We have lots of picturesque woodland walks within our grounds and have put signs up telling people that there are ‘bees at work’ in the area.

“Judging by our first yield, they have certainly been very busy bees.

“We recently presented a jar of our own honey, together with a honey twister, to one of our clients, who was absolutely delighted.

“There can’t be many hotels which are able to say they produce their own honey; it’s something we are very proud of.

“The orchard and herb garden have been popular topics of conversation among our guests, who seem impressed when they learn that we grow our own herbs and produce.

“The bees – and the honey they are now producing – are another huge asset to our hotel.”

Albrighton Hall Hotel and Spa is just three miles from Shrewsbury town centre and boasts an 18th century manor house within its 15 acres.

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