By Jo Irving
BBC Devon website
The Basterfield family has gone from 40 hives to 120
There's a real buzz in the air for one beekeeping family in east Devon who are hoping to turn their honey assets into more than just liquid gold.
The Basterfields have been keeping bees in Ottery St Mary for decades but are expanding their farm to offer people more hands-on opportunities.
Daniel Basterfield says: "We'll have an apiary, classroom and laboratory on site so we can run courses."
It's the first bee farm to be built in England and Wales for 15 years.
Bumble bees do not produce honey for commercial use
Construction work to turn it into a fully commercial operation started in January 2010 and as far as Daniel's aware it's the only place he knows where you can learn everything about these insects.
"I started this seriously about five years ago after coming back into the family business.
"I worked with my father for quite a few years when I was younger so I knew what I was letting myself in for.
"I really enjoyed helping Dad in the 70's and 80's and I'm looking to increase the bee hives from about 100 now to around 400."
Funding for the project comes from a grant given to the Basterfields from the rural development programme for England with help from the business link's rural enterprise gateway.
Daniel believes it's money well spent even though the bee business has been stung a little.
Daniel says Devon bees are very good for beginners
"The situation here isn't nearly as bad as other countries, but there's no doubt wet summers have combined with the effects of the Varroa mite to adversely affect the British bee populations."
At the farm though there's plenty of bees working hard for the honey.
"The bees we're raising for sale are local so they're well suited to the Devon climate and very good for beginners who want to take up beekeeping.
"The bee farm is going to be a base for all our operations.
"Our expansion means we can offer courses.
"In the lab we can do work under microscopes for disease diagnosis and the apiary means we can walk outside to get suited and go and practice a theory we've just done with the bees.
"I'm creating a centre of excellence so I'm more than happy for people to get involved."