Peterborough shopping centre buzzing with thriving bees

image captionDave Arnold (left) manages the 10-hive apiary at Serpentine Green in Peterborough

A shopping centre has become a successful home to more than half a million honey bees.

Ten hives have been thriving in a secret location at Serpentine Green in Peterborough since an apiary was established there five years ago.

The hives hold 150,000 bees during the winter, growing to more than 600,000 during the summer months.

Operations manager Steve Coulson said: "It's worked well as an experiment. It's been a learning curve."

The hives produce up to 60lbs (27kg) of honey every season - more than 500 jars - which are then given to staff and charities.

Beekeeper Dave Arnold said the apiary was "hidden and locked away" from view and posed no risk to the public.

image captionEach hive holds 60,000 bees at the height of the summer season

The colony was set up on the shopping centre roof in 2015 as part of a move towards greater sustainability and environmental concerns, Mr Coulson said.

It was then moved to a special facility to create space for solar panels two years ago.

Each hive can hold 12,000 females during the winter, with numbers soaring to 60,000 worker bees in each of them by August.

The hives produce between 20 and 60lbs of honey every season - amounting to more than 500 jars.

image captionThe hives produce 500 jars of honey every season
image copyrightGoogle
image captionThe hives are in a secret location at Serpentine Green

Mr Arnold, who manages three apiaries across Cambridgeshire, said the hives have gone "from strength to strength".

He said: "The conditions are right here. It is one of the most productive hives I've ever known.

"Bees are declining and need all the help we can give them.

"Any business can do it. If you have the space, it's good for everybody."

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