LIFE & LIVING
Female beekeeper turns her back on corporate career to make a buzz in apiculture in Norfolk
A journey that started out as a search for a more mindful lifestyle ended with Stacy Cronly-Dillon turning her back on the corporate ladder to become one of the UK’s most successful professional female beekeepers.
Five years ago, Stacy had a successful marketing career as a Brand Manager for an FMCG company in Essex. But the industry that had once offered glamourous photo shoots and invites to exciting events had started to take its toll on Stacy’s health. The stress that was slowly building was no longer being supressed with regular yoga sessions.
In search of calm, Stacy started beekeeping as a hobby and quickly became obsessed with the world of bees. As time progressed, so did her desire to spend more of her days with the bees, in nature, contributing to the environment around her, and caring for her own
What started as a slow-paced hobby, soon became Stacy’s passion and a side-line business, with Stacy setting up Sunnyfields Apiaries in Essex in 2018.
But craving a countryside lifestyle, and looking for more space for the bees and additional hives, Stacy and her partner Mark decided to up sticks and leave the hustle and bustle of Essex behind; moving themselves and their bee business to the Norfolk countryside in 2021.
Stacy says: “My life in Bungay now couldn’t be more different to how it was five years ago. Like many people, I was working long hours and didn’t realise just how much my stressful career was affecting me. I was probably heading for burnout.
“It was only once I connected with the bees that I understood I needed a more sustainable, slow-paced existence for my own physical and mental health and that there was an alternative to the relentless corporate slog that I had been used to.
“And the more time I spent with the bees, the more I felt the drive to do my bit to protect them and to contribute to the reversal of their declining numbers for the future of the environment.”
Three years after her first interaction with the bees, Stacy had given up her successful career and relocated to Bungay on the Norfolk Suffolk border (close to the River Waveney) with her husband Mark.
It’s from here that Stacy has become a full-time beekeeper, expanding the number of hives to became guardian of 25 colonies of honeybees. Each of her hives houses up to 45,000 bees. She has also launched a series of award-winning courses and beekeeping experiences for those curious about nature, bees and honey.
But it’s not all about the lifestyle for Stacy. Stacy’s passion and goal is to spread the word about the vital role the 270 species of bees in the UK play in pollination and to demonstrate how everyone can support honeybees in their own little corner of the world.
Focusing on education, Stacy runs beekeeping experiences at Sunnyfields Apiary so that people can get a bees-eye view of the world. Aimed at total beginners and those thinking about setting up a hive at home, Stacy shares her knowledge and guides visitors through what the bees are doing and the work that each of them is carrying out.
Stacy explains; “During the two-hour experience, I remove frames from the hive, enabling people to see up close the repetitive patterns of hexagonal honeycomb and striped bees. Guests are mesmerised as they observe the bees communicating with one another through their gentle hum. My aim is to make the beekeeping experience special and unforgettable, I want visitors to learn about the important difference the bees make by getting up-close and personal with them.”
Sunnyfields’ beekeeping experiences are all about connecting with nature. From the moment you approach Sunnyfields Apiary, the roads narrow, houses become fewer, and shoulders start to relax. On arrival, guests park next to a 99-acre ancient woodland, and life instantly slows down.
For those dreaming of starting beekeeping as a hobby, Stacy runs introductory courses, giving an overview of the life of a bee, the beekeeper’s involvement in running the hive, and the next steps in getting started.
There is no doubt that a visit to Sunnyfields will have a positive impact for both individuals and business alike, leaving guests with an irresistible urge to return home, invest in wildlife habitats, plant pollinator friendly flowers and create watering stations where nature and bees can thrive.
And for Stacy? Well, needless to say, life couldn’t be further from the corporate world she left behind and she is more than buzzing about that.
For more information about Stacy Cronly-Dillon and Sunnyfields Apiary visit: www.sunnyfieldshoney.com