Beekeepers in Somerset are reporting a disappointing harvest with honey yields dropping by an average of 50 per cent.

Records from the county’s apiaries show beekeepers extracted on average less than 20lb per hive compared to between 30lb and 40lb last year.

Figures just released by the British Beekeeping Association (BBKA) show that hives in the Westcountry averaged just 16.7lbs.

Taunton beekeeper David Morris, who has been keeping records for 50 years, said there have only been eight harvests this bad.

“The general feeling is that we have all had a poor year in terms of honey with an average of under 20 lbs per hive appearing to be the norm,” he said.

“Those who have just started beekeeping can, however, take heart. My records start in 1966 and thus between 1966 and 2015 there were only eight relatively poor years out of the last fifty.”

Honey farmer Chris Harries from Sedgemoor Honey added that this year’s harvest was one of the worst of the last decade.

“In the summer the flow never really got going,” he said. “First the weather was too dry, then too wet; but my biggest problem in July was that some of the queens stopped laying altogether.”

Tim Lovett of the BBKA said: “It’s fair to say that the summer of 2015 delivered quite simply the wrong weather for our bees.”

Wasps added to the problems faced by local beekeepers. Anne Pike, a beekeeper in North Curry, near Taunton, said: “This year could be renamed the ‘year of the wasp’! They’ve killed three full colonies and a starter colony in our club apiary. And some beekeepers report losing more hives to wasps this year than to any one single factor in the last 10.”

Anyone interested in becoming a beekeeper can source information from the Somerset Beekeepers website,