Keeping you up to date on the progress of Merseyside’s most exciting Honey Bee Project.
Blackburne House initially started a Beekeeping Project in 2010 when we applied to the Lottery for a Local Food Grant to enable us to install a hive on our roof. There had been much publicity about the plight of the honey bee, and people were being encouraged to keep bees on roofs and balconies to introduce urban beekeeping as a viable alternative to having hives in leafy suburbs.
Initially we trained up four beekeepers who were volunteers from the Women’s Institute group who also meet at Blackburne House. Latterly we have run our own beginners courses and have trained many urban beekeepers, a relatively new breed in the beekeeping world.
From our experience it became clear that after initial training the jump to actually having your own beehive was too big a step for many. The reason – cost. The cost of not only buying a hive and bees, but also purchasing a suit and tools and equipment, was stopping people who were interested in the craft, from developing into beekeepers.
With the help of an £86,000 grant from the People’s Postcode Lottery we are now able to offer starter kits, equipment, mentoring and training to community groups who are keen to learn and have the space for a hive.
We are still in the early stages and are busily working out the strategy of delivering this project. We have had a considerable amount of interest, as a result of our initial publicity campaign and next week we are holding two information evenings for the people who have expressed interest so far. This does not mean that there will be no opportunity to now get involved with the project, as we will be having another information session in a few weeks time to recruit more potential beekeepers and organisations.
There is a second aspect to this project which relates to providing the ideal conditions for bees to thrive. Put in simple terms, bees need nectar and pollen to be able to feed their young, and if the conditions are right to provide delicious honey.
Many plants that gardeners lovingly put in their gardens are of little use to the bee. They have been interfered with by humans so much that they couldn’t reproduce themselves by normal means, and therefore have no use for pollen and nectar. They tend to be the very fancy flowers that look so inviting in the garden centre.
So we want to recruit an army of volunteers who will learn about which plants provide the best conditions for bees, how to extend the flowering season, to give the bees the best chance of survival, and encourage them to put aside at least a corner of their garden, or allotment to bee friendly planting, with information sessions and seeds to get them going. Hopefully they will become converts and spread the word, thereby making people better informed about what we need to do to preserve our all important biodiversity, and keep our planet healthy, even if only a very small part of it.