Ripon Cathedral is now home to honeybees after local beekeeper (who just happens to be our Marketing Officer) Joe Priestley installed two hives on top of the Chapter House in May. Joe is (at least) the sixth generation of his family to take up beekeeping and is using our rooftop apiary to help train and inspire others in the art.
In their first summer at Ripon Cathedral, the hives have expanded from two to four thriving colonies which have produced two crops of beautiful honey which it is hoped will be on sale in the Cathedral Gift Shop from June 2022. Joe has also been busy making beeswax and has even laid down some mead.
The project was inspired by Joe’s grandfather, Jeff Rounce, who alongside his life as a full-time teacher, managed to keep over 100 hives of bees and start a business – Walsingham Apiaries in North Norfolk – which is still run by Joe’s aunt, Pat Marshall.
We ran an Instagram competition to name the apiary, which is why we ended up with the name ‘The Venerable Bees’. This celebrates our historic connection to the North-East and Anglo-Saxon heritage. Bede is depicted in statues in the cathedral.