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For expert advice contact us on

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

UK Manufacturer

Proud to manufacture in Lincolnshire

What we do

Basically, we are manufacturers of beekeeping equipment. If we cannot manufacture it ourselves, we know a man or woman who can!

We have a myriad of disciplines on site for our 100 staff; Bee farming, landscaping, woodworking, warehousing, beeswax rendering, sheet metal working, welding and fabrication, R & D, textiles, printing, retail, wholesale, logistics, catering and more probably. Rand is not our only site, we also have four more outlets around the country, Windsor, Stockbridge, South Molton and Newburgh. 

Our Head Office

Our site covers some 30 acres, much of it landscaped with native British trees, lakes, ponds and wildflower meadows. The bio-diversity on this site is exceptional. We have many rare plants and an abundance of wildlife from Carp and Great Crested Newts in the lakes to Kingfishers and Little Egrets in the air and snakes and Water Voles on the ground!  To take a tour of of grounds and factory check out the Youtube video opposite.

Sawmill and Timber Yard

This is where it all starts in our hive production. We use three main timbers, pine from Russia or Scandinavia for all our frames, Western Red Cedar from Canada for our first quality hives and Western Red Cedar from the UK for our budget range of equipment. All timber is PEFC certified (Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification).

The pine is already dry when delivered to our yard. Both types of cedar though need to be air dried for months and often years before use. The Canadian sourced timber is re-sawn in the mill and its end use carefully labelled and dated once it has been lathed.  Similarly, the UK sourced timber is dated and labelled before use before being stacked in the open in our three acre yard.

Sawdust from mill processes is turned into briquettes for wood burning stoves, fire pits and chimineas.

Woodwork Factory

This 14,000 sq.ft building is our main production unit, with over sixty regular and highly specialised woodworking machines. It has a state-of-the-art dust extraction system that pulls all waste from the machines into a silo that automatically feeds a biomass furnace for heating the building. In the summer this heat is vented to the atmosphere. We generate several tonnes of waste sawdust and shavings per week which cannot be automatically used for pet bedding for instance, due to cedar sawdust which can be dangerous. All machines have anenometers that indicate the amount of air available for waste extraction. If there is not enough air the machine cannot be used until other machines in the line (we have three separate lines) have their blast gates closed.

Some machines in here are unique and either made by ourselves or from a bespoke supplier in Italy. Other machines are run of the mill units you might find in any wood shop. The flow of work in here is quite important, basically big bits of wood come in one roller door, processed after manufacture through quality control and leave as a small bit of wood through another roller door at the other end of the building!

Assembly Department

This building also has a few woodworking machines for the use of our assembly staff. These are very useful for small batch production or specialised joinery work. We have approximately twelve members of staff involved in hive assembly, painting and CNC flat-bed work. Most beekeepers buy hives in kit form but there is a growing percentage who wish them ready assembled and often painted to order in colours from our vast range.

Quite a bit of experimental work is undertaken here as we are often commissioned for specialised hive products for universities, DEFRA or educational establishments. Sawdust from the machines in here is also processed into briquettes. All first quality hives are glued and assembled using stainless steel nails.

Frame assembly

A department in it’s own right, we have three staff members permanently assembling frames in all sizes. Assembly is still with gimp pins, we do not use manual or air powered tools here.

Quality Control

This is where all wooden frames and hive parts are checked for quality and accuracy before packing. There are often ten people in this department performing this essential task. As all our frames and hive parts are made from timber there is obviously the likelihood of splits, blemishes, knots, shakes etc which must be discarded and usually end up in our second quality range or the biomass!

Warehouse

Our stock levels are huge so our three warehouses need to be kept in good and tidy order. Pallet racking is the only way to accomplish this efficiently, all carefully computer controlled by our warehouse manager and his trusty reach truck!

Wax Plant

We started making and wiring foundation in 1965. Machinery bought from Germany and wiring boards invented on site in Wragby. We now have three embossing machines and two wax band ribboning machines plus some of the original wiring machines and three semi-automatic wiring machines developed by ourselves and The Institute of Spring Technology in Sheffield. We can liquify about 1500kgs of wax at a time in highly insulated electric vats. If the wax needs cleaning we float it on water and purify it through sedimentation alone.
We do not sterilise wax. Brood diseases cannot be transferred through beeswax. If there are spores present they are totally absorbed and encapsulated in the wax itself. Many are of the opinion that foulbrood spores are also denser than wax and will sink to the bottom of any wax processing vat.

Much of the wax we use is imported form Africa, Spain or China. We also process many tonnes of wax from UK and Irish beekeepers in exchange for foundation on our Conversion or Straight Swap Service. In total approximately 100 tonnes of beeswax are now processed at Rand. Usually into worker base, but we also make drone base and thin super plus thousands of coloured candle sheets. We also process large quantities of wax from individual Bee Farmers, usually to their own specification and very importantly ensuring they receive back their own wax. Our fourteen wax plant staff are therefore kept busy all year round in foundation production, wiring, candle making, candle rolling and wax mould production on our small vacuum former.

Engineers

This department besides welding and fabrication processes sheet material, mainly copper, stainless steel and galvanised steel into smokers, uncapping trays, wax melters and several mesh products. We believe we are the only manufacturer of smokers in the UK, all individually hand made on traditional sheet metal machinery. We have four welding bays where extractor parts are fabricated and fitted into plastic drums for our Table Top and Universal range of honey extractors. We also have CNC machines that produce a variety of items and are invaluable when we need new shafts, gears or keyways making, we maintain, service and repair 90% of our machinery ourselves. All our hive roofs are folded, collated and packed in this department as well by a dedicated member of the team.

R & D and Maintenance

This department is kept very busy! If the pumps for the fountains fail this department is the first port of call or when an electric wax vat fails, roller door gets stuck, kitchen dishwasher gets blocked or buss bar trips out. The same department also assist with R & D, trying new materials, making prototypes, testing all electrical equipment and generally keeping the place running.

Textiles

We have been producing protective clothing for beekeepers for over forty years. Our Jackets, veils and All-in-Ones will be found all over the world, especially Japan! The skills in this department are also used elsewhere on site, from embroidered tablecloths for shows to new flags for the site entrance, we have it covered.

Restaurant

Yes, we have a restaurant. Catering is a relatively new discipline for us. When we moved to this site in 2010 the restaurant was here with a fully kitted out industrial kitchen with all facilities. It would have been folly to not use it. We now have two/three full time restaurant staff catering for the Thorne team, our tenants and our customers. We have cakes to die for most days. The restaurant is open to the general public and comes in to its own for our Open Days, local Christmas Parties, Wedding Anniversaries, Birthdays and general celebrations.

Retail and Merchandising

Our shop is over 5,000 square feet and is crammed full of every conceivable piece of beekeeping and candlemaking equipment from automatic uncapping and extraction lines to wicking needles; and if it’s not here we can get it for you.  Shop staff also double up in our mail order and wholesale department, Picking orders, packing orders, arranging logistics with numerous carriers as well as arranging deliveries to our branches with our own vehicles every week. The merchandising department is vital to the success of the shop. We have a dedicated team constantly re-packing, collating, pricing and generally maintaining all items on display.

Printing

Not in the normal sense but honey labels. We supply probably seven or eight million labels of one form or another every year. A proportion of these are unique and personalised and printed on a variety of machines. We have one sometime two members of staff fully employed just printing labels.

Sales

Most of our business today is carried out on-line or on the telephone. We have a large general office therefore with five and quite often more tele sales staff ready and waiting for your call!

Despatch

A very important department and probably the hub of the operation here at Rand. Here orders are picked, packed and despatched all over the world. We have a dedicated staff of ten and sometimes up to sixteen in very busy periods.

And finally………..

Bees

We cannot supply beekeeping equipment without providing the bees.
Our nucs are all six frame, not to be confused with suppliers who provide bees on five frames. The majority are bred on our site here at Rand (we have over 100 colonies on our 30 acre site), with some being supplied from breeders in Devon and Lincolnshire. Each nuc will have a balanced supply of bees of all ages, newly laid eggs, sealed brood and food/pollen stores. They are supplied in quality 6mm birch ply travelling boxes and are available on BS, 14x12, Langstroth and Commercial frames.

 

 

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