Dale Spridgeon

AS the future of a £20 million pound nuclear plant on Anglesey hung in the balance a lone bee keeper in pink overalls tended to her tiny Welsh bees in the shadow of uncertainty.

Multi-award winning bee keeper Katie Hayward, who runs Felin Honeybees, at Cemlyn, near Cemaes Bay, Anglesey, is one the last people living in immediate proximity to the now suspended Wylfa Newydd development at Cemaes Bay.

Since, the nuclear plans were first mooted, the future of Katie's farm, honey business and education centre was in “limbo” and many of her activities ground to a halt when she was told she would have to leave her property.

But in January, Japanese company Hitachi, who are behind its UK subsidiary the Horizon Nuclear Power, pulled the plug on the project.

Now, with the project officially suspended, Katie says she is feeling a little more “optimistic” about her future and anticipates at least a 12 month reprieve to get her farm business back on track.

Katie’s farm is tucked away down a winding, country lane, well off the beaten track, and the existing Wylfa plant is literally on her doorstep.

Her historic cottage home, Felin Gafnan, is rented from the National Trust but Katie’s family have lived, worked or had associations with the property as far back as 1532.

Katie, known locally as the Queen Bee of Anglesey, has been running her 18 acre bee farm and education centre since 2012.

She first became interested in bees at the age of 17 and now has 1,652 hives scattered across Anglesey, North Wales and France, where she also has an apiary.

Now 42, she gave up a high powered career in construction project management, sold a home, cars and everything she had to invest into her business.

Katie, who is married to Chris, specialises in keeping Welsh black bees. The couple also keep chickens, horses, cats, goats, sheep and graze cattle on the idyllic farm surrounded by fields, meadows and sea.

“I love all my animals, but especially my bees, they are the most amazing creatures, so aware of their surroundings, but you can’t just up and move them on a whim. What you do with them has to be planned with the seasons, and now the spring is coming, there are things I will need to do with the bees.

“It is going to be very busy in the next few weeks. I’ll be doing probably 19/20 hours days, just to catch up with work that was put on hold, when we thought we were going to have to move.”

“It’s a terrible feeling being in limbo, you can’t plan anything, and it made me ill worrying about my life, my bees and the animals. But I am feeling a little more optimistic now, and it is time for me to bounce back.”

Katie has taken her skills into schools, works with local farmers as well as teaching bee keeping to the public. She also uses it as a therapy to help people including helping young offenders and the disabled.

She has also adapted a special hive, fitted with a seat, so people unsteady on their feet, can experience bee keeping, and she shows people how to make traditional bee products such as healing balms.

Her honey is also popular with pubs and restaurants on Anglesey including Catch 22 at Valley and the Loft restaurant, at the Bull in Beaumaris.

“It is wonderful to use bee keeping to help people, there is something very special, and quite healing being around bees. It is also wonderful to work with local restaurants. I love getting involved with innovation, there are some amazing, chefs on Anglesey, creating innovative dishes that use our honey.”

Over the years, Katie has won a clutch of food and business awards, the last one was in November, 2018, when she was named runner up in the Small Business section of the Great British Entrepreneur Award, 2018. She received her prize dressed in a bee costume during a glittering awards ceremony in Cardiff.