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Honey Home

A polyurethane foam National hive

The Honey Home was one of the earliest "non-wooden" hives, that was well made and likely to have a future, that I came across. I had seen a number of hives that were made from a variety of materials including fibreglass, asbestos and concrete, but they all had quite serious problems, preventing them from becoming popular.

When the Honey Home came onto the market it was well advertised in BeeCraft and the British Bee Journal (known by beekeepers as BBJ). I remember it being exhibited as a new invention at the National Honey Show, that in those days was held at Caxton Hall in Westminster.

The Honey Home soon disappeared, as many of the new introductions or inventions often do. I was not aware of the reason until I had an unexpected email from the designer, Neville Dearden, nearly 40 years later, who informed me the company who made them had ceased trading soon after production started.

Over the years I have come across a number of Honey Homes, but I have never owned one myself. I have handled bees in them on many occasions, without the usual problems I find with other synthetic hives, such as polystyrene. The material they are made from is tough, so the boxes can be scraped with a hive tool and aren't damaged in use, unlike polystyrene. When West Sussex ceased having a County Beekeeping Instructor (CBI) I was asked by the Principal of the Brinsbury School of Agriculture if I would keep the county teaching apiary going. There were a number of hive types including a Honey Home. I found it very easy to use and completely compatible with wooden Nationals. The only minor annoyance for me was that I was unable to use castellated spacers, that by then I was using on all my own hives.

I regularly come across Honey Home brood boxes or supers at a number of apiaries and it is rare the owners know anything about them or their history. The material ensured they didn't deteriorate when left in the open, as plastic and polystyrene does, they do not rot and don't get attacked by wax moth or woodworm. Only on one occasion have I seen the start of woodpecker damage, but that was only slight. I have come across a few roofs that were distorted and/or cracked, but Neville Dearden told me that problem was discovered early and rectified. As the long time auctioneer of the West Sussex BKA Bee Auction, I have sold many Honey Home parts over the years and they are as good as the day they were made.

Neville Dearden tells me that only about a hundred or so hives were ever made, but I still see so many that I think the number sold must have been significantly higher, but Neville was employed by the company, so I won't argue with him. They certainly last a lot longer than wood or polystyrene. What a pity the company folded, taking with it the manufacturing experience and the moulds? My guess is that if they were manufactured today they would be popular, as in my view they are far superior to poly hives.

A short article by Neville Dearden can be accessed from the button on the top left. This also shows photo's taken by Neville and myself of Honey Home parts.

Roger Patterson.