Photographer Keiron Tovell captures the work of Adnams’ beekeeper Steve Barrett
DID YOU KNOW that as well as producing copious amounts of real ale, Adnams also produces its own honey?
The supplier is Steve Barrett, of Barrett’s Bees, who has been a ‘barefoot beekeeper’ since he was a schoolboy in the late 60s, and then took it up seriously after retiring from Suffolk Police and joining forces with Adnams.
It was back in 2014 that Adnams set about doing its bit to help the honey bee. Bees worldwide are under threat following decades of indiscriminate pesticide use; farming and land-use practices destroying the insects’ habitat and food sources, as well as virulent diseases and pests.
Steve has long since been a fan of Adnams and its sustainability practices, and so, with his expertise in finding a new home for rescued bees, the company started off by rehoming two hives of honey bees at the eco-friendly distribution centre in Reydon.
A couple of years later, guests at The Swan Hotel in Southwold were enjoying local honey with their breakfasts.
Nowadays, there are 30 hives and five apiaries, running along a ‘bee corridor’ from Pakefield, where Steve is based, all the way through to Reydon, taking in other Adnams suppliers along the way, such as Henstead Marsh Beef, and The Penny Bun Bakehouse. ‘We’re like a big family,’ says Steve. In total, between a quarter and half a tonne of honey is produced a year.
Not only does Steve care for the beehives but ‘all of the beehives are made from scratch by me. They are all Adnams’ branded hives and look like little beach huts.’ So expect them to be painted in the trademark pink and blue (and even Ghost Ship blue).
Head chef of The Crown in Southwold, Stephen Duffield, has also trained to be a beekeeper and uses the honey in his recipes. ‘Mr Barrett’s honey mousse’ and cut comb honey (nice with cheese, apparently) are often found on the menu and the pair have become good friends.
Steve loves what he does. As he says: ‘I make everything to do with the honey.’ On the day of the photoshoot, Steve was pleased to spot the queen bee, and Keiron was not so pleased to get stung at the end of it all!