Published: Wed 3 August, 2022
A former engineer obsessed by bees, who decided to change his career overnight, has become beekeeper to more than five million honeybees across Leicestershire.
After 30 years as an engineer and following two strokes, Nigel Collier knew he needed to look for a new career and turned a hobby into a dream career.
Making his first jar of honey in 2014, the 52-year-old from Measham launched Temple Bees in 2020.
“I woke up one day and knew I had to keep bees, it was something I had got to do. Now I’ve become obsessed. No two hives are the same, no two years are the same,” Nigel said.
“You will never taste anything like the first jar of honey from your own bees. It’s the best I have ever tasted and I don’t particularly like honey that much. I love bees.
“My bees have everything they need apart from satellite TV. They get pampered. I would keep bees even if they didn’t make honey because they are fascinating.”
Gradually expanding, Nigel secured a £5,000 business start-up grant from North West Leicestershire District Council (NWLDC) in November 2021 allowing him to introduce new hives to the business.
The one-off start-up grant formed part of NWLDC’s 2021 start-up support programme, in partnership with the Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership (LLEP), for new and aspiring businesses. Alongside funding, businesses in the programme benefitted from almost 24-hours of business support including six workshops and one-to-one coaching sessions.
The grant funding allowed him to buy 35 new hives, which now support some of the 120 colonies on farms and in woodlands across Leicestershire including Packington, Measham, Moira, Farm Town, Normanton, Staunton-Harold, Newtown Linford and Mountsorrel.
With a sustainable focus, the majority of Temple Bees’ honey is sold locally, with some jars travelling a mere four miles from apiary to shop counter.
Nigel commented; “I try to supply the honey from the apiary to the nearest shop, so when you buy my honey it will taste different depending on where it was made. I have 20 colonies next to ancient woodland in Newtown Linford and that honey has a unique flavour.
“It’s a lot harder work than I thought it would be, long days and you go home tired. I love it, it’s great, it’s the best thing I have done.”
Councillor Tony Gillard, NWLD Portfolio Holder for Business, said: “It’s exciting to see businesses thriving and to know that we are able to support them to expand and enhance their work through our grants programmes.
“It’s clear to see the passion Nigel has for bees and his commitment to supporting the local community to understand more about the importance of bees and to helping farmers and landowners to pollinate their land and promote biodiversity.”
Sonia Baigent, LLEP Board Member and Chair of the Business Gateway Board, added: “Our Business Advisers are always interested to hear from people with innovative ideas for start-ups in Leicester and Leicestershire and we can help to get start-ups established. Nigel's idea is sustainable and inventive and we wish him all the best in his future growth."