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Beekeeper wins award for mead from honey

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Added by Admin in Beekeeping as a business
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Making a business from honey: Beekeeper's mead mission Not many people are lucky enough to turn a hobby into a career.  But that is what Matt Newell, 30, has done, using honey from his beehives to make mead - an alcoholic drink - that is now on sale across the Wye Valley.  Mr Newell, from Chepstow, launched his business, Wye Valley Meadery, a year ago after gaining mentoring and advice from the Prince's Trust Cymru, which supports young people in business.  He is now the winner of the trust's NatWest Enterprise Award, after transforming his idea into a "sustainable business".  "I've been beekeeping as a hobby for 15 years, and have wanted to make mead commercially for such a long time," Mr Newell said.  "But I had no business experience, so needed help with that and also how to market such a niche product in a competitive market." Mr Newell's interest in beekeeping began in his teens, when a commercial beekeeper asked him to help out with his 500 hives.  "I loved it immediately," he said. "It seems so confusing at first, all the bees swarming everywhere, but behind it there is complete order. "It's like a whole super organism working together for one goal - creating food for the winter and the expansion and survival of the colony."  Mr Newell's formal enterprise only began in earnest, however, after he quit a job in construction.  Determined to put his mead idea into action, he spent months testing recipes, before hiring space in a local brewery. His brother Kit, 29, an app designer, began helping out and now the duo produce 2,000 litres (about 3,500 pints) of sparkling mead a month.  The drink, which has a 5.5% alcohol content and comes in a variety of flavours, is now stocked in 25 shops. Mr Newell said: "Some people don't know what mead is or even that it comes from honey. "But it is often popular with modern craft beer drinkers, and also female customers. "We plan on making a low or non-alcoholic version soon, as this is where the demand is. "We hope to help bring mead back into the mainstream and raise knowledge of the importance of bees too." In order to produce enough honey for the mead, Mr Newell owns 130 hives, each containing roughly 60,000 Welsh honey bees. The brothers also buy other local honey.  Mr Newell believes the fact mead is made with the honey from bees is appealing to customers who like environmentally sustainable products.  "Most people love bees," he said. "They are essential to society, with a third of our food pollinated by them. "Their habitats are often under threat, though.  "Bees love brownfield sites, which are often filled with ivy, buddleia and other purple flowers which they are attracted to with their ultra-violet vision.  "But these are frequently built on, which is damaging to bees and all pollinators." He admits, though, that being self-employed in the bee industry does have its challenges. "I work all the time," he said. "And I also get stung a lot, but that's because I choose not to wear gloves so I

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