Bee friendly project creates a buzz around East Lancashire.
Colonies of British Black Honeybees are buzzing around Rossendale and Hyndburn thanks to an innovative environmental project called Bee Friendly Greenspaces.
The project is establishing new beehive sites at Stubbylee Park in Bacup and Accrington and Rossendale College (ACCROSS). Beds of wild flowers and fruit trees are also being planted to increase pollination and fertilisation, helping British Black Honeybees get established.
Bee Friendly Greenspaces has been made possible thanks to £19,995 of match funding by Newground Together, a charity which drives social and environmental change.
It is being run by the charity’s social enterprise company, Newground, by its Sustainable Communities team based at the Offshoots Permaculture Project at Towneley Hall in Burnley.
Phill Dewhurst, Offshoots' project manager, said: “British bees are under threat due to the effects of climate change and poor weather conditions. However, the humble bee plays an important role in the British eco-system – the pollination of flowers, orchards and crops contributes to farming and human health.
It is estimated around 75% of all crops require pollination by bees and other insects and is worth £440 million a year to the UK economy.
Projects like Bee Friendly Greenspaces not only re-introduce a native species of bee to the local environment and promote the growth of bee friendly forage plants, it will also provide an opportunity for people to realise the important role bees’ play and explain the work they do.”
Volunteers from Stubbylee Community Greenhouses, based at the Bacup park, and members of staff from ACCROSS College have been trained in beekeeping and are mentored by Newground’s bee farmer and beekeeping apprentice. The training is providing practical ways to conserve and protect natural habitats and species.
Andy Armiger, Clerk to the Corporation at ACCROSS, has been working with Bee Friendly Greenspaces to establish their hives and create forage flower beds on the college site.
He said: “The college hives have approximately 60,000 bees in each hive – made up of one Queen Bee, around 2,000 drones (males) and 58,000 workers (females). The average life cycle of a bee is six weeks and the Queen, who lives up to four years, can lay 2,000 eggs a day.”
From September, the role of bees in the environment is going to be built into the college’s science curriculum. There are also plans to use the 30 to 40lbs of honey the bees produce each year in the catering department and sell it in the college shop.
Andy added: “Bee Friendly Greenspaces is an amazing project that has shown us that bees are extraordinary in the work they do. They play a crucial role in pollinating fruit and flowers. Areas of the college have been planted with bee friendly flowers and we are even leaving some areas to grow wild.
Being involved has been great for the college, great for the environment and we look forward to expanding the work even further.”
Newground bee keeping apprentice Seb Leaver, ACCROSS College lecturer Bev Rowley and Andy Armiger, Clerk to the Corporation.
Bee Friendly Greenspaces has given Stubby Lee Community Greenhouses, an eco-focussed community garden that provides rehabilitation for people who have physical and mental health issues, two hives and is currently training volunteers in introductory beekeeping.
Souta Van Wick, operations manager for Stubby Lee Community Greenhouses, said: “Since we got involved in the project we have noticed a huge difference in some of our volunteers. The bees provide people who were lonely and isolated with the motivation and focus to get out and re-connect with people.
The bees are creating a focus on well-being and the environment, something that works well with our commitment to improving health, well-being and life opportunities for local people. We look forward to developing the project further with the volunteers who attend the project.”
Bee Friendly Greenspaces is delivered by Newground and part funded by the charity Newground Together.