Chris Harries, a bee farmer from Taunton, is the winner of the greatest honour Somerset Beekeepers’ Association (SBKA) can bestow.
He is this year’s recipient of the West Country Honey Farms Award which was given in recognition of his outstanding contribution to beekeeping in the county.
Chris has been a member of SBKA for 47 years and has been heavily involved with Taunton & District Beekeepers’ Division based at Heatherton Park.
Among many other roles supporting local beekeepers, he is a driving force behind an annual auction of beekeeping equipment, is a honey judge and helps to stage the County Honey Show held as part of Taunton Flower Show.
In the 1970s he set up the second crop spray liaison scheme in the country and continues to be the county’s spray liaison officer acting as a go between farmers and beekeepers.
Chris was ‘stung’ by the honey bug aged 13 while at Priorswood Secondary Modern School in Taunton (now part of The Taunton Academy) when his woodwork teacher, Harry Harrison, introduced pupils to beekeeping.
“He took us out to Heatherton Park apiary to get us to make up frames and clean up the equipment and he also had hives in the school grounds,” said Chris.
But his introduction to the craft didn’t get off to the most auspicious of starts: “On the first afternoon, when we were taken to look at the schools’ bees, my best friend was stung and suffered a severe anaphylactic shock.”
Chris eventually became a fulltime bee farmer and currently has 300 honey bee colonies in 20 apiaries.
“I’ve always had an interest in the natural world – wildlife and plants - and beekeeping combines so many of those interests. And I still enjoy beekeeping all these years on.”
Chris’s company, Sedgemoor Honey, produces award-winning, local honey which is sold in outlets across the county and further afield.
Somerset Beekeepers’ Association works to advance the craft of apiculture within its membership and to promote general awareness and understanding of honey bees.
To find out more visit www.somersetbeekeepers.org.uk