Somerset’s annual auction of beekeeping equipment in March heralds the start of honey season.

Beekeepers from all over the West country will descend on Ruishton Village Hall near Taunton on Sunday, March 22 looking for bargains among the hundreds of lots spanning both the old and new.

Run by Taunton Beekeepers, Chris Harries is back on the podium, gavel in hand, as auctioneer for the 29th year running.

“If you want to start beekeeping on the cheap, it’s well worth coming along to the auction,” he said. “We never know what we’re going to get until we open the doors but usually there are hives, smokers, honey extraction equipment,” Chairman Peter Maben said. “This is an ideal opportunity for anybody who is in need of some second hand equipment, maybe because they are just starting out in beekeeping, or they’re thinking of expanding. There hall is likely to be packed with bargains.

“It is also a good place for those who are reducing the number of their colonies and want to sell some supers, brood boxes, and a miscellany of other equipment.”

The sale starts at 2pm and items of equipment can be received at the village hall from 10am.

Local beekeepers have been encouraged by a bounce-back year in 2014 when honey harvests averaged 30lbs, up from the lowest point of just 7lbs three years ago.

In the last few weeks Somerset beekeepers have been encouraged by the sight of their bees bringing pollen and nectar into the hives in the Spring sunshine following another below-average year in 2013.

Proceeds from the auction sale will invested in the club’s new teaching centre, opened at its apiary near Bradford on Tone last year.