Doug Pearce is the beekeeper behind South Downs honey. He has kept bees since 2010. The beekeeping started as a hobby with one hive in his back garden, but by the end of 2011 it was obvious the hobby needed a new home and he contacted a local farmer that allowed him to move his hives onto some land that was spare on the farm and that was how he started the Applesham farm apiary.
Doug moved his hives from his garden up onto Applesham farm during the winter 2011/12 and then set the apiary up to be able to take up to 20 hives at any time. During 2012/13 Doug expanded the number of hives through breading new queens and collecting swarms to the maximum. At this point Doug started to look for his second site.
The Chalk pit and onwards.
Over the summer and autumn of 2013, Doug spent time looking around the area trying to find a second site for his hives and at the end of 2013 he found the old chalk pit and negotiated with the land owner to see if he could use it. It was at this time he met Mike Tristram the land owner. Mike is very environmental and since then they have worked together to improve the Chalk pit it so people can have access to the Lime kiln found in there.
The Chalk pit filled up with hives in the same way as Applesham did. Since 2016 Doug has been looking for new sites and in 2018 he hopes to open 3 new sites that he has found. These new sites will have to be slightly different than the original sites as he is now slightly disabled and has to take this into consideration, So easy access is now a priority and the new sites are really good for this.
Awards & Nominations:
South Downs honey has done really well for awards having won cups and rosettes at both national and local Honey shows, up till 2014. The honey hasn't been entered in these competitions since then due to Doug now having a small family But in September 2017, South Downs Honey was nominated and became a Finalist in the Sussex Food Awards 2018 in the Sussex Food producers category. This was a massive shock that people could think that our products are worthy of such an award, but as the voting for the winners is a public vote and we are such a small enterprise we were eventually unsuccessful in becoming winners, but if we continue with our quality ethos in the future hopefully we can win such competitions.