Our Bridgwater store's community champion Jo Thexton enjoyed helping a group of local beekeepers so much that she's now the proud owner of her own beehive.

Jo met Ken Edwards from Quantock Beekeepers Association when he removed a swarm from an area near the store last summer and became interested in beekeeping when she then started volunteering with the group.

Jo, who's been community champion at the store for three years, said: "Last year a swarm of bees landed on the side of our store, so someone from Quantock Beekeepers Association came along and removed them.

"It got me interested in bees, so I contacted this association to find out more. Ken and I got chatting, and he invited me along to see how I could help them and how they could help me.

"I started volunteering there, thoroughly enjoyed it, and then went to training sessions on how to keep bees. This led to me getting a honey beehive at home – so I can now call myself a beekeeper!

"This the first year I've had them, and next year I plan on getting my own honey from them.

"We've also started collecting waste sugar from the store and donating it to them. Sometimes the packets are spilt when they arrive in store, and sometimes there are spillages on the shop floor.

"In the cold weather their priority is to look after the queen. But they can't go out and forage, so you have to leave them plenty of syrup to feed themselves and their queen. They then emerge in the spring."

The group were recently runners up in the store's Green Token Giving vote, and Jo presented the group's chair Barry Hewlett with a cheque for £200 which will go towards equipment.

Ken said: "We're very grateful for the sugar and for all of Jo's support. It's been great to have her on board and she's really embraced everything about beekeeping.

"She started coming along to our evening classes then our teaching centre learning the skills needed. We let her have a small beehive, and she took it from there.

"The sugar the store donated is mixed with water so it's like a thick syrup. We feed it to the bees so it's like a low-grade honey which sustains them through the winter."