Manchester bees are buzzing about their new home at Altrincham Wastewater Treatment Works

Not many people would choose to set up home at a wastewater treatment works, but for thousands of bees in South Manchester it’s turned out to be the perfect location.

A dozen colonies took up residence at Altrincham Wastewater Treatment Works (WwTW) earlier this year, thanks to a partnership between United Utilities and the Manchester Honey Company, run by Gareth Trehearn. They were introduced to each other by the Friends of Carrington Moss group, and now there are 12 hives on a corner of land next to the treatment works.

Thousands of bees – there can be up to 100,000 individuals in an established colony - are now buzzing about the place, collecting nectar and pollinating plants as they go, and in the autumn their first batch of honey will be harvested.

Mark Sewell, Catchment Manager at United Utilities, said: “We’re so proud to have the bees living here at Altrincham Wastewater Treatment Works.

“All the site team enjoy watching them buzzing around, and of course they can’t wait to taste the honey! We’re going to create space for more hives later this year and work with Gareth to ensure we’re maintaining this patch of land in a way that will help the bees continue to thrive.

“Providing a home for these important pollinators is a great way to support the local environment, helping us in our aim to make our region greener, and also gives us the chance to help the local community and a local business too.

“In total we now have 143 hives on our land across the North West, and with around 60,000 bees on average per hive, that could mean a staggering 8.5 million additional workers helping to pollinate plants and crops, and produce delicious honey for people to enjoy on their toast.”

Gareth Trehearn, who runs Manchester Honey Company, explained: “I first started beekeeping just before the Covid pandemic hit, and when my business had to be wound down during lockdowns the beekeeping really took off!

“I was delighted when we were able to explore the idea of having hives at the wastewater treatment works in Altrincham, thanks to a suggestion from the Friends of Carrington Moss. There are plenty of plants all around that are perfect for pollinators, and there’s a water source in Sinderland Brook too.

“Bees typically collect pollen within a mile of their hives, so the honey they produce has a distinct local flavour according to which plants are prevalent in the area. The first batch of Altrincham honey will be available around September from our website.”

Marj Powner, Chair of the Friends of Carrington Moss, added: “We were really pleased to be able to bring United Utilities and the Manchester Bee Company together. It’s so important that we all take time to enjoy and care for nature, so we encourage everyone to do their bit for bees and other pollinators - simply putting out shallow bowls of water and letting some areas go a bit wild can make a real difference.”

Friends of Carrington Moss and Manchester Honey Company will be hosting open days this summer where people can find out about the bees. Details will be published on: