Published: 00:00, 05 September 2016
| Updated: 10:20, 05 September 2016
Eurostar’s honey club have harvested their first batch of honey to use in their products on board the high speed international trains.
The Eurostar Contact Centre (ECC) in Tannery Lane, Ashford launched the group earlier this year following a similar successful venture with London employees.
Last week, the ECC Honey Club completed their first extraction which involved taking the first of the bees honey from the hives.
The group is made up of 18 Eurostar employees and supervised by Nick Mengham of Mr Bumble Beekeeping.
The club meets at the Farriers Arms pub in Mersham, which is located close to the hives along the HS1 track.
Play the video below to find out more about the project
Kimberley Harman, communications engagement manager for Eurostar, helped set up the Honey Club with colleagues from across the business.
She said: “Bee’s are hugely beneficial to the environment. They’ve got a big role to play in pollination which has positive impacts on agriculture.
“Eurostar’s really committed to reducing it’s impact on the environment as well as getting involved with our local communities, but not only that, we’re continually looking for opportunities to engage our colleagues across the business and give them new skills outside of their core role.
“This project really started back in 2011 as we were working with a local charity, Global Generation in Kings Cross, and as part of that project we actually set up some hives in Temple Mills which is our train depot.
“This year we’re really keen to extend that opportunity to our colleagues here in Ashford at both the station and contact centre.”
Mersham primary school are also involved in the new initiative, and have been asked to name batches of the honey and illustrate the packaging whilst using the hives for education.
Miss Harman said: “We’re really keen to get involved with the local primary school to develop their awareness of safety about crossings, and HS1 will come along with us to talk to the children and engage them with the bee project, but also use it as an opportunity to touch on safety.”
Alan Brooks, Eurostar train driver and one of the Ashford group beekeepers said: “My initial role has been to set up the hives and to transport some from London.
“We’re now on a rota system so that people can monitor the health of the bees and the progress of the hives.
Mr Brooks noted the convenience of the location: “It’s quite secluded so it’s quite safe, it’s out of the way from neighbours but it’s also good because the hives are in a good situation for the sun and they’re also sheltered in the winter.
“The next stage is next spring, to expand the number of hives we’ve got but equally engage more with the local school and the pub and to generate more honey.”
Natalie Lord, general manager of the Farriers Arms in Mersham where the group meetings are held, said: “We are very much a local community which thrives amongst the partnerships that work with one another.
“From beekeeping to W.I. to the sports club and the school, we like to work very closely with any initiatives that look like they’re either going to benefit the environment or our community or the wider audience.
“This really pricked our ears up because it’s quite a unique and nostalgic passtime but it seems to me to be much more than just that now and actually part of our very creation.”
The honey is already used as an ingredient in Eurostar’s gin, ‘Toujours 21’ developed in partnership with culinary director Raymond Blanc, and in the business premier desserts.
The Mersham batch will be stored in tubs and used in a new recipe for a white chocolate, honey and pistachio parfait which will be availble on board from October.
Eurostar hope to add up to another five hives next year due to the success of the most recent batch.