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About Jem

Thanks very much for coming here to read this.

On the home page, there is a photo of me holding some scraps of cardboard. The beekeepers among you will wonder if it’s for my smoker. In that instance, yes it was for the smoker! However, the cardboard also represents how I live my life, my pre-beekeeping career experience, and how I now run this business.

I run Jem’s Bees by myself and from my rented home on the Cambridgeshire Suffolk border. In addition to being a beekeeper, I am a designer, maker, amateur gardener, and recycler.

Low impact lifestyles really interest me. I design and make things using basic materials which I find lying around and I’ve done this for many years. I used to use scrap cardboard to start off my designs for slot model kits and folding paper pop-up book sculptures when I worked in children’s book publishing. For several years I also encouraged other people to build new things with cardboard when I ran the BrilliantBuilds family workshop. I have included some photos on this page so you can see what I got up to.

With old wood and metal I’ve built tables, quail enclosures, shelving units, planters, and bird boxes. It’s all really simple stuff but bothering to do it in the first place has helped to keep costs to a minimum and has saved materials from going in to some sort of waste pile somewhere. Unwanted materials will always play a vital part in helping me to shape the form of something new.

I apply the same methodology with my work with Jem’s Bees. For those of you who have seen me trading at an event, most of the display elements on my stall are made from things that I have recycled. The banner uprights are old plant climbers, the honey jar plinths are made from recycled pallets, the polish tin stands are made from old wardrobe slats.

When it comes to making a business purchase, I shop around and try and get the most for my money. If, for instance, I need to order a new set of stickers or labels, I will try and find a larger sticker design so that I can get several designs on to it. I then arrange them carefully so that with one cut of the scissors I end up with two stickers. Yes it takes a bit more time, but I have time at the moment.

Working with the materials I’ve got to hand and being resourceful mirrors exactly how honeybee colonies work. They do what they can, with what they find. I’m inspired by their behaviour and feel that I’m in a sort of synergic relationship with them.

A good honey harvest is never guaranteed – the weather, the habitat, the increased risk of pests and diseases along with the aptitude of a beekeeper can all influence that. This is why I am slowly and simply, trying to use my design skills to diversify my product range to relieve the pressure from just selling honey. Most of the people I sell to already have some understanding of the challenges bees and beekeepers face. I'm grateful for their knowledge, but I'm equally thankful for those who, even with limited knowledge, stop and ask me questions.
It's good to be curious.

My intention is to keep Jem’s Bees Ltd simple and manageable for myself. I look after the bees to the best of my ability and I will continue to make and sell produce to help pay for their upkeep and some of my bills.

If you’ve got any questions about what I do and what I make, please contact me.

just bee-ing

Designing, making and growing

Here are some photos of various projects

Working with paper and cardboard

I designed with these materials on an everyday basis when I worked in children's book publishing. I built slot model kits and pop-up books. I also encouraged young families to work with waste cardboard when I ran the BrilliantBuilds workshop. My own step-by-step cardboard project book 'Out of the Box' published in 2017 and again in 2023, but under the new title Cardboard Activity Lab. Getting a Blue Peter badge in my 30th year was something special :)

Recycling and repurposing to help the business

Whether it's to help with the beekeeping activities or with the stall, there's always an opportunity to recycle and repurpose something.

Harvesting any honey I am lucky enough to get

I will do a longer blog post on my honey extraction process but this is a short gallery of images to show you my incredibly simple manual extraction line. The kitchen is transformed when it comes to honey harvesting. For your peace of mind, I am pleased to report that I did receive a 5 star hygiene rating for my setup and honey handling procedures. 

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