© 2019 FarmED - Honeydale Farm, Station Road, Shipton-under-Wychwood, Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire, OX7 6BJ, United Kingdom

Paul Totterdell

Bees, Seeds & Technology

Paul manages the FarmED apiary together with beekeeping mentor, Chris Wells and he is also the Manager of Cotswold Seeds, where he has worked since 2000. Over the years his role has encompassed being on the mixing team, being technical advisor, managing the company’s IT systems, eventually becoming manager of the business a few years ago.

These areas of expertise have come together in Paul’s passion for beekeeping at FarmED. As part of his role as a technical advisor at Cotswold Seeds, Paul was involved for many years with the multi-million pound, EU-funded Healthy Hay and Legume Plus research programmes, focusing on the science behind the forgotten forage legume, sainfoin. As well as being great for livestock, sainfoin is also an excellent forage for bees. When it came to deciding where to site the apiary at FarmED, the hives were located next to the sainfoin field, which Paul had helped to plan. 

Paul grew up in villages in the Cotswolds and as a youngster he worked on a mixed farm in Gloucestershire as a farmhand, herding cattle and helping with the harvest. While in the sixth form at school, he also worked part time mixing seed orders in the warehouse at Cotswold Seeds, where he remained for a gap year and returned during the holidays while completing a degree in Computer Science.

After graduating in 2005, Paul joined Cotswold Seeds fulltime, tasked with improving the IT infrastructure and digitising the seed ordering system, moving away from a paper-based operation. He split his time between working upstairs in the office and downstairs in the warehouse, but after spending more time on the phones and processing seed orders, increasing his technical knowledge, he became a technical advisor on the sales team. 

When Cotswold Seeds acquired Honeydale Farm in 2013, one of the first changes made was to introduce honeybees, allowing Paul to fulfil a long-held ambition of being a beekeeper. 

He found Chris Wells through the North Cotswold Beekeepers Association and was impressed by his knowledge and approach. Paul and Chris now run the apiary together, with a shared goal of producing cut comb honey, the purest and most sustainable form. 

Paul was also involved with the creation of FarmED, helping to devise and refine the vision for the centre and briefing architects, as well as speccing requirements for the IT, and other technology including the solar-powered gate.

‘I am fascinated by bee hives for the same reasons I like computers,’ Paul says. ‘They both require tiny, finely tuned components working together to create a desired output.’

If you visit FarmED and see a drone flying overhead, it will be Paul at the controls, since he’s also a licenced and CAA approved, PfCO qualified drone pilot.