A BEE farmer says the sweet taste of success is worth the stings after being named as a supermarket company's producer of the year.

Great Tilkey Honey, based in Coggeshall, scooped the award from the East of England Co-op at the firm's bash in Ipswich after fending off competition from other finalists based in Norfolk and Suffolk.

The event also celebrated 10 years of the company's sourced locally initiative.

Michael Coe from Great Tilkey Honey said: "I’m doubly delighted to have won Producer of the Year in the same year that the Sourced Locally initiative is celebrating its 10th anniversary.

“I’m immensely proud of what my small cottage industry has achieved over the last five years.

“It truly is a labour of love; very early mornings, late nights and lots of stings! But we would not change a thing. The journey has been phenomenal and the future looks bright.

“We are growing the number of bees and continuing to educate the public on the welfare of these amazing creatures.”

The firm have been producing clear and set honey for the Co-op stores since 2012 and has grown from one hive in Mr Coe's back garden into an established business.

Joint chief executive of the East of England Co-op Roger Grosvenor said: "Michael’s hard work over the last five years exemplifies our Sourced Locally initiative.

"I’m delighted that his commitment and passion has been recognised. His knowledge of bees and educating the public on their welfare is second to none.”