HONEY bees in the North West have produced their best crop for five years, according to new figures.

A survey of beekeepers has revealed an average yield of 32lbs of honey per colony this year in the region.

The findings were collected by the British Beekeepers Association’s annual Honey Survey, who have put the results down to better weather and better beekeeping.

The survey revealed a substantial 60 per cent increase on the 20lbs per colony reported by North West of England beekeepers in 2013, and is a far cry from the 7lbs per colony nadir of 2012.

The reported yield across the country is 32lbs per colony, a 28 per cent increase on the 25lbs per colony reported in 2013.

Conducted by BBKA amongst 2,000 beekeepers across the country, the annual Honey Survey explores the current year’s honey yield and the factors affecting honey bee colonies and honey production.

Commenting on the increased yield for this year, BBKA Director of Public Affairs, Tim Lovett, said: “While this increase is great news for beekeepers and honey bees, the historic average is 40lbs plus per hive so there is still some way to go if we are to return to our most productive.

“To help counter the devastating impact of pests and diseases on honey bee colonies in recent years, the BBKA has funded research exploring honey bee welfare.

“However, great emphasis has also been given to equipping all beekeepers with the husbandry skills needed to maintain healthy and productive honey bee colonies, and the 2014 Honey Survey clearly reflects this effort.”

Pat Malone, of the Kendal and South Westmorland Beekeepers’ Association, agreed that it had been “a very good summer,” having collected more than 50lbs from one of her colonies.

“I think all our members have had a good year, and it makes a change having had three bad years since 2010,” she said.

“It’s largely down to having nice weather in the summer when flowers are actually available – I just wish I knew what next summer will be like.

“We’ve also had a lot more interest than in the past few years, perhaps because people have seen that there is hope after all.

“There’s been a lot about it on TV, which is great because it makes it very topical and people want to plant things that are good for bees.”

Of beekeepers across the country who reported an increased honey yield, around two fifths, 41 per cent, cited ‘better beekeeping’ as a contributory factor.