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Westbury Bee Group

Westbury Bee Group

Tucked away amongst the lovely and diverse art (and artists!) at Westbury Arts is a little known part of the Centre. With approximately 800,000 residents living there, it’s hard to imagine how it manages to remain hidden, especially as most of those residents are working through the summer non-stop from dawn until dusk, yet somehow manage to pass to and from almost unnoticed.


If you haven’t already guessed from the title, we are talking

about bees! There is a well established apiary of honey bees

dating back over 25 years run by Mike Bensley who also leads

the Bee Group and teaches the Westbury Arts Centre

beekeeping course every year. 

ndeed, the apiary was started by Mike himself all those

years ago, shortly after he was called in to relocate a swarm

of honey bees who had decided that under the floorboards

in the Westbury house was the perfect place to set up home. 


The humans already living there not really being agreeable

to doing a house share with thousands of bees, the swarm

was collected by Mike and moved to 5-star beehive

accommodation - and the Westbury Arts apiary was born. 


Fast forward 25 years and it’s still just as popular

with the bees.


During the active season (April to September, depending on weather conditions) we run monthly hive tours, where you can watch the bees close up outside and inside the hives and learn about their life cycle.  Those who want to can even handle the bees - although we’ve noticed that our younger visitors are often much braver than their parents when it comes to getting up close!  Protective bee suits are available to borrow for this fascinating experience, which this year costs £5 per person and has proved very popular.


Mike heads the beekeeping course held every year at the Westbury Arts Centre from around April to September (again, weather dependent) where students learn the essential basics of keeping bees with time spent both in the classroom and hands-on outside in the apiary. The course is ideal for those considering keeping bees, or even just wanting to learn more about our most important pollinators. 


Pure honey from the Westbury hives is usually available to buy from Westbury Arts Centre. Try some and you’ll never want the supermarket stuff again! To do so, please contact The Westbury Bee Group use:


For information on Apiary Tours, Beekeeping Courses and the Bee Talks which we hold from time to time, please visit Westbury's Workshops page click here

For information on our Events click here

For information on how to get to

Westbury click here.


Bee Festival - July 2023

Westbury Bee Group held their second Bee Festival in July and,

despite the all-day downpour on the Saturday being enough to float

another Ark, we had a fantastic turn out on both days.

The Mayor and Mayoress of Milton Keynes, Mick and Mandy Legg,

opened the Festival and were clearly very interested in our aims and

what we’re doing for bees and beekeeping in Milton Keynes; indeed

they asked if they could come along to one of our honey extraction sessions. 

They will be most welcome – and as Mayoress Mandy’s father kept bees

himself, she is already one-step ahead in the game!  In addition, opening

proceedings on the Saturday were members of the dance group from

Coldharbour School in Bletchley who treated us to a lovely dance

performance in the Barn.


All the activities - face painting, candle making, honey tasting, story-telling, seed-bomb making, Pat-a-Pony (a big thank you to the very patient pony, Bam!), drawing and colouring, treasure hunt, our ever-popular observation hive, to name but a few - were very busy over the whole Festival. As was the Drawing Room refreshment area which was serving teas, coffees, cold drinks and snacks non-stop all day, not to mention an assortment of cakes and cupcakes so delicious that they could have had a festival of their own.  In addition, on the subject of cakes, Mike (founder of the Westbury Bee Group and lifelong beekeeper) awarded the young winner of the Honey Cake competition with a trophy. Although only young, the winner made the winning cake without any help from anyone else, except for putting the cake in the oven and getting it out.  We could have the next Paul Hollywood right here!


Our 2024 Festival is again being held in July and we will be having all the activities of 2023, plus more. We look forward to seeing you next year – and with a bit of luck and finger crossing we will have an improvement in the weather!




The Westbury Bee Group Shield 

The Westbury Bee Group (WBC) were pleased to be presented recently with a shield which will hold the names of each winner of Best Honey in Show at their annual Honey Show.  Joe Little, artist at Westbury Arts Centre {pictured here with the founder of the WBG, Mike Bensley} presented the shield to WBC in memory of his Great Uncle, James Duffy.  Born in 1915, James left home as a young man in 1938, joining the International Brigade to fight fascism in Spain in the Spanish Civil War, where he tragically lost his life in Aragon in 1938 on the first day of fighting.  This year is the 85th anniversary of James’ death and the shield bears the dedication to him - The James Duffy Shield for Best Honey In Show. 


The WBG are very grateful to Joe Little for this shield.

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