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+44 (0) 1673 858 555 or sales@thorne.co.uk
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About Thorne

We have been making beekeeping equipment in Lincolnshire for over 100 years.

We are proud to be the leading manufacturer and retailer of beekeeping equipment in the UK, and are renowned throughout the world for the quality of the beehives we produce.

Many of our customers have been shopping with us for years and often ask about our history and where we have come from. If you want to find out more then carry on reading below.

In 1913, the headmaster of Wragby School was a beekeeper and he asked Edgar Henry Thorne, as a joiner on the local estate, to make him a beehive. Edgar did this and he was hooked on the fascinating art of beekeeping. The headmaster became his beekeeping mentor and Edgar began a small business manufacturing and retailing beehives, alongside his normal day job.

Edgar continued to develop and grow his business and 13 years later he developed the wedge type top bar (probably the most widely used top bar today).

At the end of the Second World War, his younger son Leslie Thorne, joined the business. Leslie loved the bees and it quickly became his passion. He made the first foray into plastic hives (we decided to stick with wooden hives!), feeders and honey extractors in the 1960’s. He also made a major investment in the business and drove to Germany to purchase a wax plant. Now E.H. Thorne (Beehives) Ltd could mill and cut their own beeswax foundation sheets.

Leslie was also behind much of the automation of our manufacturing process in the latter half of the 20th Century. This innovation has continued through to the 21st Century with the introduction of microprocessors in many of our in-house machine tools. We still innovate- with simplicity being key in bringing forward new products such as the Easi-Steam and the Adapta Hive Stand.

Thornes Today

Now we are a fourth generation family firm supporting hundreds of local people and more than 50,000 beekeepers. We employ over 90 people at our five locations around the country, the majority being at Rand. Here we run our multi-disciplined business on a 31 acre site.

We have a sewing department for producing, veils, jackets, gauntlets and so much more. Our wax plant processes over 100 tonnes of beeswax per annum producing approximately 2,000,000 sheets of foundation; most of it wired.

We supply personalised labels throughout the world. We also manufacture the Empire smokers and fabricate many tools and honey extractors in our engineering department. Here we carry out a great deal of R & D into modifying and producing new equipment.

Our woodwork shop supports a large proportion of our staff working on over seventy woodworking machines.

In this building we also have a large quality control area for sorting, collating and packing the numerous hive parts and frames we produce.

Our assembly department has always been busy and in 2017 we moved them into a larger building giving us much more flexibility and capacity. In here we make everything from open mesh floors to bespoke observation hives. We have also invested in several machines for use specifically in the assembly department. This allows us to produce and assemble the hive parts more quickly than before.
At Rand we also have our 5,000 sq.ft shop. You will be made very welcome by our staff; an increasing number of whom are now experienced beekeepers.

The Buzz Stop restaurant serves, coffee and homemade cakes, tasty light lunches and even afternoon teas. We also have our own museum on site. Our original shop and office was transported on the back of a large flat bed truck to our new site at Rand. Here you will find weird and wonderful equipment and some fascinating photographs.

We are pleased to be in partnership with Thomas Apiculture in France; one of the oldest and most respected suppliers of beekeeping equipment in the world. They specialise in quality stainless steel equipment. We specialise in quality hives. You can now find our Western Red Cedar hives (albeit to a French specification) in their catalogue and their stainless steel equipment in our catalogue.

All our top quality hives are made from Western Red Cedar. WRC is renowned for its natural beauty and outstanding physical properties. It is a highly durable timber and has one of the longest life-spans of any softwood with natural decay and insect resistance. Its low density gives it an insulation value far superior to most other species of timber. It is light, attractively coloured and possesses outstanding dimensional stability All our Budget Hives are made from home-grown cedar. Both timbers are sourced from sustainable forests.

Our green credentials are impressive. The loose-fill packaging is recycled cardboard collected from local businesses. Our sawdust and shavings are recycled in a fully automatic biomass burner which heats our 13,000 sq.ft woodwork shop. We also have another biomass burner which heats our 10,000 sq,ft. wax plant and engineering department. All timber off-cuts are shredded for the biomass or collected and used as a garden mulch or smoker fuel. We also produce sawdust and shavings briquettes for use on open fires or wood burners.

Elsewhere, our four branches hold a large stock of Thornes beekeeping equipment. In Newburgh, Fife we have a retail, warehousing and manufacturing facility. Here Brian and Charlene run the shop and also assembles quite a few products as well as the exclusive manufacture of all our silicone moulds. At Oakley Green, just outside Windsor, Bob and John, expert beekeepers, run the store with some assembly work. The Windsor branch has recently expanded and we have a large ,brand new, shop for you to browse. The Windsor branch is very handy for Heathrow and is only 4 miles from junction 6 of the M4. Then we have Thornes of Stockbridge. This branch is run by Lin Coleman. Lin has been involved in beekeeping equipment for many years and will make you most welcome; you might even get a piece of cake if you time your visit right! Last but not least we have Thornes of Devon. Opened in May 2018 this is our newest branch, run by Gail and Abi. Located at Quince Honey Farm in South Molton, this branch is well worth a visit.

For quality, service and innovation, there is only one choice.

 

 

We’re here to help you

Our experienced and knowledgeable staff will be here to answer any questions you may have. From complete beginners to experienced beekeepers we are happy to help you in any way we can.

FIND OUT MORE

Rebecca Coleman

Company Director

Rebecca is 4th generation 'Thorne' and used to enjoy beekeeping with her Grandad, Leslie. She joined the company permanently in 2006. Rebecca previously worked as a Management Consultant in London.

Paul Smith

Managing Director

Paul joined Thornes in 1976 and has worked in every department. He oversaw the acquisition of EH Taylor Ltd. in 1984 and the move to our new site in 2010.

Gill Smith (nee Thorne)

Company Director and Chairman of the Board

Gill is the eldest daughter of Leslie and Joan Thorne. She started the sewing department, the digital printing of honey labels and the change from typewriters to computers!

Colin Barber

Despatch and Shop Supervisor

Colin joined us in June 2010 and what a fantastic asset to the Thorne team. Colin runs the despatch, shop and engineers here at our head office in Rand, Lincolnshire.

Adrian Rogers

Office Supervisor

Adrian joined us in 2003 and looks after the running of our Rand office, ably assisted by a smashing team. He enjoys keeping bees in a Warre hive.

Andy Hill

Workshop Foreman

Andy first worked for us in various departments in the 1980s. We are now very pleased to say he has joined us again as our new foreman running all aspects of the woodwork shop. His prior knowledge of our equipment manufacturing has proved invaluable.

Visit our branches

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E.H. Thorne (Beehives) Ltd - Lincolnshire Head Office & Factory

Our head office is situated in Beehive Business Park in the glorious Lincolnshire countryside. We have a large 5000sq ft shop, restaurant and museum.
Find out more
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Thornes of Windsor

Carrying a large range of the best quality beekeeping equipment in the country, our Thornes of Windsor store is well worth a visit.
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Thornes of Scotland

Come and see our wonderful Scottish branch in Fife. A warm welcome awaits you from our experienced and dedicated Scottish team.
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Thornes of Stockbridge

A friendly welcome always awaits at our Stockbridge branch, where we stock a full range of both beekeeping and candlemaking equipment.
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Thornes of Devon

Our newest branch - Thornes of Devon is located within the grounds of Quince Honey Farm.
Find out more
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