Bee Happy: Pure Raw British Honey

This project is about making Locally produced honey - I am aiming to establish 10-20 colonies around southwest London and Surrey. The honey produced will be pure raw honey, and the bees will help with pollination

We did it!

On 24th Sep 2013 we successfully raised £3,225 of £3,000 target with 55 supporters in 35 days

Help the bees - Help support the start up cost of bee colonies and receive Pure Raw Honey in return


This winter's losses of honey bee colonies were the worst since records began six years ago, according to a survey carried out by the British Beekeepers Association. As a result, UK honey crops have dropped, resulting in an increased dependency on foreign imports to satisfy demand.

This project is about making Locally produced honey

Locally produced honey is always in high demand and it sells out as fast as it can be produced.

My goal is to establish about 10-20 colonies spread out across the outskirts of South West London/Surrey. The advantage of having the colonies spread around is their reduced susceptibility of transferring disease between colonies. Further, as the forage area is larger, the colonies will not be competing against each other for the same forage. This could also mean that the honey produced from each area will quite possible have different flavours depending on the vegetation around.

More bees means more pollination for flowers and food crops. The allotment surrounding my association apiary has been seen an amazing harvests since the founding of the apiary on that site. I'm hoping this success can be transferred to the various neighborhoods in which my colonies are situated.

Having the colonies spread out in such a way helps reduce the bees dependency on mono-culture crops as seen on many farms, and the reduced diversity of plant species seen in some rural/countryside areas. This should hopefully transfer into longer periods of nectar and pollen flows over the beekeeping season and therefore a higher yield of Poly-floral Honey

An additional aim of this project is to encourage the cultivation of wild flowers around the colonies/hives and I will aim to plant a variety of these wild flowers around each apiary site.

How will the money be used?

I am raising money to cover the start-up costs. The biggest costs will be obtaining materials for the apiary i.e wood/hives, tools, fencing, consumable supplies and liability insurance. Initially I may also have to pay for some start up nucs until I have enough strong colonies to initiate my own queen rearing project (longer term goal). There is also a big market for well bred queens and nucs. This year the demand for nucs was very high while supply was still short, and I can see this trend continuing in the future. I am keen to produce locally reared queens rather than encouraging imported bees as some suppliers do.

I assemble and finish all beehives myself, using lots of my time to ensure quality construction. When correctly built and waterproofed, beehives have a working life of 15+ years, which is a way to keep costs down, and keeping this idea sustainable.

I will be using the British National hive at all locations which means I can order in bulk keeping costs down, but also maintenance is easy and sterilised equipment can be interchanged between sites

If this Crowdfunder campaign should achieve more pledges than required, I will use the additional funds to obtain more beehives to house more bees. I'm hoping that after a year, I will be able to increase the number of colonies to 40.

Risks and challenges 

Beekeeping like most farming ventures is fairly dependent on climatic and environmental conditions. longer periods of harsh climate mean the bees do not come out and forage but also, pollen and nectar flows can be affected by periods of drought or excessive rainfall / sunshine hours. These bees however will be situated in a semi-urban environment where climatic conditions are generally warmer on average, but also the variety of forage is more diverse on account of the variation in plant species found in urban gardens. It is thought that this diversity of forage helps boost the immune systems of bees, which should help them fight against the various diseases that bees are prone to.

Speaking of disease, the existence of European and American Foul brood, Wax Moth, Varoa Mites etc can all effect the colonies. As my colonies will not all be situated in the same apiary, should a colony be affected, it is unlikely to affect other colonies through transference. I will also be treating the colonies at the relevant times for things like Varoa to ensure infestation is kept to a minimum.

As honey production is dependent on nectar flows, harvesting does not occur in one giant sitting, instead it is staggered to the blooms of individual plant species. Thus, Crowdfunder rewards may be delivered in a staggered manner over the course of the beekeeping season.

Finally, beekeeping is very seasonal work, with the most active times being between the end of winter to late autumn (March-September). Therefore, the winter months when hive activity is low, are the best to build and maintain equipment so it is all ready for the start of the new season.

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