Barkston Ash Beekeepers Association have a fantastic apiary, within the Wildlife Habitat Protection Trust's Old Park Plantation, of which we are justifiably proud.


The apiary is used for meetings during the summer months and for training. Beginners are encouraged to keep a colony in the apiary during their first year of beekeeping.


The apiary meetings are always very friendly and informative.  Some of our experienced members lead the regular checks of the hives but everyone has the opportunity to handle the bees and take part in the ongoing care of the colonies.

Training meetings for new members, (and occasionally demonstrations to which all are invited), usually commence from the first Saturday in May, through the season, starting around 1.00 pm and lasting for no more than one and a half to two hours.


It is a condition of the Old Park site that Barkston Ash members, old and new, must park vehicles in the designated area and walk from there to the apiary.  On the occasion that a member needs to take a vehicle to the apiary, he/she MUST contact the apiary manager, (currently Paul Vickers) who will arrange permission/timing with The Woodland Trust.  Please observe this requirement..

History Of Old Park Apiary


Barkston Ash Beekeepers Association where  invited to set up this apiary in 2008 by brothers Craig and Martin Blakey within their “Wild Life Habitat Protection Trust”.                   

The infrastructure for the establishment of the apiary was financed by the Wildlife Protection Trust. 

Barkston Ash Beekeepers Association is a long established association, based at Church Fenton, near Tadcaster and the project was in response to the need to promote beekeeping in the area of Yorkshire between Leeds and York.  The area is mainly rural but there are fewer beekeepers in the area than might be expected.  Recent publicity in the media has highlighted the importance of bees in the environment to pollinate both crops and native flora.  The introduction of the varroa mite into the UK in 1992 has resulted in the demise of most feral honey bee colonies and therefore the health of the honey bee population is all the more dependent upon beekeepers.


The apiary has the following objectives:


        1  Training new beekeepers

        2  Queen rearing and producing nuclei

        3  Sharing and developing beekeeping expertise

        4  Demonstrations of beekeeping to the public


A Committee was set up to oversee the apiary.  Its members were Andy Dykes, John Fuller and Greg Sharp. 

The apiary is sheltered to the east, west and north, so promises to be a good site.  Work started clearing the site on Saturday 1st November 2008, and other Saturdays throughout the winter.  Undergrowth had to be cut away, a high hawthorn hedge was reduced in size, trees in the way where pulled out by management using a JCB.  Eventually we had a clear area and concrete slabs laid to put stillages on.  Robin Tomlinson supplied the timber and John Whitaker used his wood working skill to make the stillages.  Those giving up their time to clear the site – apart from the Committee where:- Brian Shipley, John Whitaker, Liz Lowe plus her husband and Julia Wharrie.


Our biggest problem was the road leading from the car park to the apiary site.  It had been dug out for the laying of lime stone and eventually macadam.  Once the top soil had been removed it exposed clay.  When this became wet it was very difficult to walk on and we slithered all aver the place.  Wheel barrows could not be pushed and had to be towed. 

I went to Thorne’s and purchased national brood boxes, deep frames and supers.  Shallow frames I got from National Bee Supplies of Exeter.  John Whitaker made mesh floors and clown boards for the hives.  John Bowes of York Beekeepers came up trumps, making us a branding iron to mark our wood work.  Greg Sharp and I spent a cold evening branding wood work (fortified with a bottle of my prize winning mead).


Brothers Craig and Mark Blakey who are behind the scheme, where most generous, supplying all we asked for.  They put tall posts on three side of the site and then covered them in mesh so that our bees and the public never meet. 

I donated one of my colonies on 14 × 12 frames and a Buckfast queen.  A demonstration was given to new beekeepers on doing a shook swarm to get the bees off my deep frames and onto 8½" frames.  On the same afternoon, John Whitaker - who had brought one of his hives to make the site look more occupied – demonstrated a Bailey Comb Change. 

The site then soon filled up as the 2009 beginners obtained their own bees.  

Two supers of honey had been harvested by the end of June and sold – putting some money back into our coffers to make up for the start up outlay.  Extracting the honey was an ideal time to demonstrate to our new beekeepers how to uncap frames, spin the honey out and run it into tubs.


Old Park Apiary

 Re-Vamp 2019

Work started clearing the site on Saturday 1st November 2008, and other Saturdays throughout the winter.  Robin Tomlinson supplied the timber and John Whitaker used his wood working skills to make the stillage’s.  Those giving up their time to clear the site – apart from the Committee were:- Brian Shipley, John Whitaker, Liz Lowe plus her husband and Julia Wharrie.

It has been some time since any major work has been carried out on the site apart from its upkeep and clearing the pathways to the apiary by members.

The committee decided it was time for a revamp this year (2019) and have invested in a new shed measuring 10x8. Paul Vickers who is our new apiary manager has taken on this roll and is arranging work parties to prep the site and erect the new shed, repair fencing, revamp old wooden hives and purchase 3 new poly hives so we can show new members the difference between wood and poly hives. Later on in 2020 Paul and Greg Sharp intend to set up a queen rearing program in which they will show other members what to do and how to raise queens.

More photos and story lines on how this project is progressing will be posted soon.


Slabs and sand for shed base & Craig taking them down to site in his JCB and Photo of the new shed from the advert for it.

Stage 1 of the re-vamp started today (24th November 2019) with the ripdown of the old shed and a new base put in for the new one. The weather was over cast but at least the rain held off. Two hours later and we were heading back up to the car park were Chrissy Vickers had the tea and coffee with biscuits ready with Danielle Pickett. A big thank you to the work party who turned out, David Chartes, Micheal Freer, Steve Marshall, Greg Sharp, Ian Tillett and Richard Pickett. 


Stage 2 of the re-vamp started today (3rd December 2019). The new shed arrived in 2 packs like a giant meccano kit. Instructions were 25 pages full of head scratching drawings.

This time we had a team of 4, Greg Sharp, Tony Bowey, Mike Freer and myself. The most important thing on a cold winters morning was setup before any work started.


First we had to put together the shed roof which was a lot of parts and screws


Then we started on putting the sides together.

Trying to fit them was not an easy task as the instructions were not the best, but after many consultations and several cups of tea the shed started to look like a shed without the roof. 


Before we could get all the sides up and the roof on we ran out of light and the temperature dropped, so we packed up for the day and arranged to start the next day with putting the roof on. Wednesday was another cold start with frost on the ground but this didn't stop us. On with the roof and finish stage 2 of the re-vamp.


At this stage after several hot cups of tea the only thing left was the new racking to go in the shed. Yet again another kit to put together but soon done. Stage 2 completed with new shed and shelving. A big thank you to the teams that have made this possible. Stage 3 will be taking place in January 2020.