It was a school teacher that piqued Craig Hughes’s interest in bee-keeping many years ago.
Offered the chance to learn about the hives, 12-year-old Craig accepted, thinking it would impress his classmates.
“I thought the girls would fall at my feet when they saw how brave I was,” he laughs.
“I never met any girls through bee-keeping but I did fall in love with bees.
“I have always had an interest in food and I became a chef for so many years, travelling the world until I left catering and became a barrister.
“Then when I fell ill with cancer, I decided to pack law in six to seven years ago.
“I thought I would go back to something I knew about and started with two hives.”
Craig wondered if there would be a market for his home-produced honey. His question was answered readily: of the 24 farm shops he contacted, every one wanted some and Crossmoor Honey Farm, near Elswick, was in business.
Craig now keeps hives at locations all over the North West and sells a wide range of flavoured honeys at farmers’ markets, delis and smaller supermarkets, as well as in farm shops.
Crossmoor Honey Farm also makes oat-based flapjacks, Bee Bars, which are being supplied to schools in Blackpool as a healthy breakfast snack.
Craig keeps a keen eye on the welfare of his winged workforce and gives talks for free in schools and community groups about the importance of bees to the environment.
He says: “We try to promote welfare and wellbeing of bees and try to educate people.
“When I was a child, bees were seen as something that needed to be swatted.
“We go into schools to get kids to understand the importance of pollination.
“I also give talks to gardening clubs, masonic groups and lots of Women’s Institutes.
“I know how difficult it is to get people to come and work in the industry. If we can educate children, they might want to do it later in life.”
Crossmoor Honey Farm also gives a percentage of its profits to the Rosemere Cancer Foundation, who supported Craig during his illness.