RECENTLY I took my son to Bee World. My son is three and "Quince Honey Farm" didn't seem to stick with him, hence... Bee World.
He liked Bee World. In fact he has asked twice since whether we can go back there. It seems he likes bees. Who knew? Although, once I'd thought about it, I realised that bees, and, more particularly, honey, make fairly regular appearances in children's lives starting with Winnie The Pooh.
Anyway, this interest in all things bee-ish turned out to be a good thing because The Quince Honey Farm is swarming with bees. Although the extraction vats and other equipment used in the processing of the honey were visible, but not in action when we were there.
We were given a nice little activity book and a chance to taste some of the honey, but, all in all, Bee World was a wee bit reminiscent of school-nature tables in the days when such things still existed. But, then... there are those bees.
The Quince Honey Farm has more than 1,500 beehives. It is the largest honey farm of its kind in the UK and it has been in operation for 60 years.
Visitors are able to observe the workings of the honeybee colonies from behind the safety of the glass panels, and the unusual residences that some of the swarms have taken up (we liked the post-box especially) are particularly appealing to children. Although, if you're three, being able to press a big red button to open a hive and see the buzzy workings within is probably the best bit.
Bees, of course, also hold a great deal of interest for plenty of people over the age of three. The North Devon Branch of the Devon Beekeepers Association boasts some 130 members and anyone with a gardening bent tends to develop an affection for the creatures. In addition to which there is, naturally, plenty of yummy honey, as well as other bee related by-products like soap and candles, for sale in the gift shop.
The Quince Honey Farm is soon to open a brand-spanking new, indoor play area. Ian Wallace, the manager at the honey farm, is very enthusiastic about the new project and keen to offer something of interest to local families that combines a fresh element of fun with the present attraction.
Given the popularity of the existing indoor playgrounds in the area, I suspect he is on to something. There is already a café and a good sized parking lot on site so the honey farm should now offer a good day out, particularly for families local to South Molton who have had to travel to Barnstaple and beyond for these sorts of facilities up until now.
It is worth noting that the bees are dormant in the winter months, but, for those of you who fancy a few bugs with your coffee and climbing frames, there is a new exhibit planned of ... ants. They come from Trinidad and they're called leaf-cutting ants. I can think of at least one three year old who will be very keen to meet them.
Where: Quince Honey Farm Contact: 01769 572 401 Website: www.quincehoney. co.uk North Devon Beekeepers Association: www.northdevonbees.org