THE North-East is creating a real buzz in sporting circles by staking a claim to have the UK’s most bee-friendly racecourse.
Redcar Racecourse is backing the environment by becoming home to eight beehives and hopes to get onto a winner with its own brand of honey.
The hives were established by passionate beekeeper Dave Metcalfe, whose business relationship with the seaside racecourse has blossomed over 20 years.
Father-of-three Dave, 64, owned Wilton Signs, which had a contract to produce the signs around the racecourse.
After selling the business, Dave approached the racecourse with a plan to turn a plot of land behind the stands into a bee-friendly corner.
To his surprise, Redcar’s management gave him an enthusiastic thumbs up and the hives were moved onto the racecourse site six weeks ago.
“I think it’s great that a racecourse like Redcar had the foresight to say ‘yes’ and it’s gone really well so far,” said Dave, who was speaking during Bees’ Needs Week. “They had the spare land and I wanted somewhere to develop my hobby, so it made sense.”
The plan now is to have up to 15 hives, grow a wildflower meadow, and increase honey production.
There are approximately 170,000 bees on the site and Dave expects them to produce around 60 jars of honey this year. Initial sales will be to friends but, as the operation grows, Dave plans to target farmers’ markets with profits being used to make the business self-sustainable.
Amy Fair, Redcar’s general manager, said: “We have gorgeous gardens and lots of pollinating plants, so we were delighted when Dave came along with the idea because it fits perfectly with our aim to be as environmentally-friendly as possible. Bees are fundamental to the ecology and we want to play our part in protecting them.”
Father-of-three Dave, who lives near the racecourse, first became interested in beekeeping while serving in the Army as a young man. He is a member of both the British Beekeepers Association and the Cleveland Beekeepers Association, known as Tees Bees.
“I’m fascinated by the way bees communicate and work together,” he said. “They are one of the most important pollinators, but they are under threat because of modern farming practices and climate change. If we lose pollinators, we lose food production and that threatens the biggest race of all – the human race.”
- To find out more about the Cleveland Beekeepers Association, go to www.teesbees.co.uk
THE BEEKEEPERS’ STAKES
To celebrate Bees’ Needs Week, which runs until July 14, we’ve come up with our own line-up of racehorses with connections to bees. We’d love to hear of other suggestions.
- BEE FRIENDLY (Champion Sprinter of Europe in the 1960s, owned by Sir Peter O’Sullivan)
- BEESWING (Winner of the 1842 Ascot Gold Cup and winner of 51 races)
- E.S.BEE (Grand National winner 1956)
- SAVE THE BEES (Trained in North Yorkshire by Declan Carroll to win at Redcar in 2017)
- BEE BEE BEE (Won The Preakness Stakes in America in 1972)
- DEE EX BEE (Trained at Middleham by Mark Johnston to be fourth in last year’s St Leger and an Ascot winner this year)
- DEANO’S BEE-NO (Trained by Martin Pipe, one of racing’s top staying hurdlers)
- ROYAL BEEKEEPER (Dual winner trained by Dan Skelton)
- HONEY END (Unlucky runner-up when favourite in Foinavon’s legendary Grand National in 1967)
- ANYTHING OWNED BY THE QUEEN