• Rockhill House 'A Spirit of Place'

The Buzz- Meet the Rockhill Beekeeper

- Posted on: 04/08/2023 -

Last month we posted the first of our beekeeper Frank Chaney’s blogs but as reminded by others several times since we clearly forgot to introduce him.

 frank beekeeper b w red

A Dublin native, Frank moved to Donegal in 1995 after meeting his wife Sadie. They have two children – Emma (22) and Darragh (18) and live on Sadie’s family farm a short drive from Rockhill House.


Although reared in Dublin City, Frank has always had an interest in nature but since coming to Donegal, bees have truly captured his heart. His love of bees began somewhere some may find surprising, his car listening to stories of the plight of our native bees while driving to and from work. Hearing and reading about the mounting pressures pollinators are facing from pesticides, Varroa disease, and colony collapse the “buzz” started to build that he needed to learn more.


Perfectly timed, a friend mentioned they were attending a talk about native bees just down the road. Neither knew it wasn’t just a talk but was actually a full course in beekeeping run by their local association Three Rivers Beekeepers. “I first started to keep bees to help as they were struggling to survive. But as I have explored more over the years, now my aim is to help people learn about the importance of bees as pollinators, how to support them, or even establish and care for their own hives. ”Starting with a beginners course the rest, as he says “is history”.


Rockhill “A Spirit of Place…”

“A friend of mine saw the beekeeper opportunity at Rockhill on Facebook and let me know, so I applied for the position.”


“My first thoughts when I saw the call for a beekeeper was not about honey but what a great opportunity to reach a lot of people and share the wonder that is the native Irish honeybee.”


“I had no idea before visiting Rockhill that the owners were well and truly actively immersed in a significant biodiversity program linking nature to wellness. What has been achieved on the estate in terms of the overall approach to biodiversity, the connection with nature, and its importance in our lives in terms of our health and wellbeing in a few years is truly remarkable. It just seemed like a great fit with who I am.” “ I said recently to Kathryn, your dad has a wonderful vision, sometimes I think he wants to run before he can walk but I love that. I love his absolute passion and belief in what he’s doing and I am fully committed to doing what I can to help achieve his goals.”


“I want to establish the bees at Rockhill, building the numbers of hives in our  Apiary to a sustainable level and rear our own Queen to enhance the overall genetic quality of our local bees. I also want our educational programs to be they tours, nature walks, workshops, courses, or wellness retreats to show that we care passionately about nature and contribute for all the right reasons”


“In recent months I got great pleasure from our guest’s response to our last year’s batch of honey and its addition to the Rockhill breakfast. Our trial bee courses be they the Bee Safari or Bee Experience were very well received and we have trialled honey-based products in The Wellhouse Spa. So I’m really looking forward to establishing a further 5 hives on the estate this year”


When I first met Frank we went for what is now effectively our Bee Safari Experience. As we wandered around the estate I was struck by his passion for the subject, his breadth of knowledge, and indeed the uniqueness of some of the information that flowed in that Dublin accent which after some 25-plus years in Donegal has been an achievement to retain. It was absolutely clear that bees had captured Frank’s heart and had had a life-changing effect on him and that he was the ideal beekeeper for the Rockhill Estate.


I personally love to learn a little about the people I meet, mainly through conversation and I have no doubt that when you meet and enjoy Frank’s company you will feel uplifted. 


P.S. If you would like to meet Frank in person you can do so on one of our scheduled bee outings i.e. Bee Safari or Bee Experience. For further information please call 0749113650 Monday to Friday between the hours of 10 am and 5 pm.