A BEEKEEPER from Horwich says he is three weeks behind on his normal harvest season due to the volatile weather in recent months.

Derek Cartwright has around one million bees across 30 hives and a solid harvest season can produce 2,000 jars of honey for his Horwich Honey business.

But the fluctuating weather has stalled proceedings, with storms and scorching-hot weather stopping honey bees from operating at maximum capacity.

Derek said the bees “have had a very difficult start”, although he hoped he could still provide plentiful supplies for customers.

He said: “They will fly for food in-between the rain but if it is pouring down, they can’t get out to find nectar. Honey bees don’t fly when they are wet so they just stay inside.

“They really got going in June when they usually get going in April, so they are around three of four weeks behind where they should be now.”

April was a very cold and dry month while in May it was extremely wet. Honey bees typically prefer warm, humid weather, where they can operate most efficiently.

Derek said: “The colonies aren’t growing as much as they normally do, so they aren’t bringing in as much.

“This isn’t a problem confined to me though, as I’ve seen a lot of beekeepers around the country have had similar issues. We will have a harvest but it won’t be as strong as last year.”

Derek, who also deals with swarms, said the number of these had also decreased due to the weather. He dealt with around 40 swarms last year - but only around 10 so far this year.

Last October Derek had record sales for his product, as customers looked to natural remedies to colds and the flu ahead of the winter months. His product is extracted, filtered and settled - and is not pasteurised, leaving it as ‘natural’ honey.

For more information, visit horwichhoney.com.