HAMPSHIRE'S mini army of beekeepers is welcoming news the price of honey is set to soar.

The sweet spread enjoyed sales of £68m last year - up 2.5 per cent on 2006.

Thomas Heck, chairman of the UK Honey Association, said demand for honey was unrelenting and warned "while importers are doing everything they can to ensure UK honey demand is met, the significant rise in raw honey costs will affect the cost of some retail products."

Unlike overseas producers, many of Hampshire's 500 beekeepers enjoyed a bumper crop so hope to cash in.

Alan Johnson of Bishop's Waltham's A+M Johnson honey and hive products said: "Honey is about £3.20 a pound. If you were to pay the minimum wage you'd be paying out £8 a pound."