A one-man  honey-making business wants his success to spur other producers on to big things.

Under the name Great Tilkey Honey, Michael Coe produces Essex Blossom and Suffolk Blossom clear and set honey.

He started off with just one hive at the bottom of his garden in Coggeshall nearly 10 years ago, but now has six apiaries across Essex and Suffolk and his honey comes from around 100 hives.

Michael said: “I’ve always been interested in beekeeping and it was a hobby to start with.

“It’s been a wonderful journey and I hope to grow my business into one where my son can take over one day.”

Great Tilkey Honey has recently become one of the East of England Co op’s Sourced Locally partners and Michael now supplies his honey to stores across East Anglia.

In a poll recently released by YouGov, Essex is better than the national average when it comes to supporting local producers, with 28 per cent of respondents saying they have bought local produce in the last week – comparing to a national average of 25 per cent. But only 22 per cent of those in Essex would generally expect to buy local produce in a convenience store.

Michael does all of the work towards making his honey himself, from extracting it from the hives and filtering it, to filling jars and labelling them – nothing is added or taken away in the process. He is also clear how important bees – which pollinate 90 per cent of the crops that we rely on for food – are to the environment.

Michael said: “If bees were to die out, we would have a serious problem with food shortages so it’s an essential part of my job.

“Looking after bees does take a lot of time. They are like any livestock; you can’t just leave them as they need continuous monitoring – but I love my job and think it is a wonderful way of life.”