Shropshire Star

Beekeeper sells jars of his Shropshire Day honey that came with a near-fatal sting

A Shropshire councillor has launched a commemorative batch of honey from his own beehives to celebrate Shropshire Day - but he says producing it nearly killed him.

Last updated
Dan with Fiona Braithwaite and Grant Northwood of Much Wenlock's the Pig and Pie which is selling his honey and commemorative pies

Dan Thomas represents Much Wenlock at Shropshire Council and has been keeping bees in the medieval town and extracting their honey for years.

He said as February 23 was both Shropshire Day and also the feast day of Saint Milburga - an 8th century Abbess of Wenlock Priory - he wanted to mark the occasion with jars of his locally produced honey.

The honey for sale at Much Wenlock's the Pig and Pie

But Dan, who has been stung many times by his bees, said that when he attempted to extract this latest batch, he was rushed to hospital by ambulance with "blue lights on" after one of the bees had stung him.

He said: "I went to the bees to separate the honey from the bees so that removing the honey would be easier. Essentially, you put in an escape board that the bees go through naturally but can't go back through. There was a guard bee on my veil and she stung me.

"The sting hit my neck, and whilst the bee died, the sting stayed pumping in its toxins whilst alerting over bees to attack that point.

"I managed to put hives back together and get back to the house, I had to get the bees off and get inside. Whilst doing this, my skin was incredibly itchy.

"Once in the house, I was violently sick as the anaphylaxis process affects your digestive system next. My wife, who was then pregnant with our daughter Penelope, called an ambulance.

"Thankfully I had an epi-pen which I used and the ambulance got to hospital in Telford in 15 minutes, which is frankly incredible considering where I live in Wenlock. My son Eric, who was 18 months, could see something was wrong and hugged me before the ambulance arrived; even then, the ability of an embrace of my children to lower my heart rate was incredible.

"The paramedics were brilliant; they put me at ease and got me on oxygen. I went to Princess Royal for observations but was home the same day; once it was confirmed."

He added: "The person who mentored me in Beekeeping, Wenlock resident William Winton, has looked after the bees since. But I'll be forever grateful to the NHS for saving my life and to Will who has looked after the bees since."

But the passionate beekeeper said his Much Wenlock Pure honey that he finally managed to extract was worth it as it had been produced from the nectar of wildflowers and rape seed crops blooming across the town.

The honey for sale at Much Wenlock's the Pig and Pie

Dan said: "It is a delicious fusion of local history and bee-keeping passion. As a beekeeper and councillor, I'm passionate about both honey and our county.

"Saint Milburga, a beloved abbess who played a significant role in Much Wenlock's history, and Shropshire Day, which celebrates our unique identity, are perfect inspirations for this special honey - she's a really underrated saint and I wanted to show that in the honey."

The honey is available to purchase for £4.50 a jar from Much Wenlock's the Pig and Pie, which is selling its own special pie and burger to commemorate the day.