Please help us promote the art of beekeeping across West Lothian and beyond.
We want to continue to share our enthusiasm and knowledge of beekeeping with other like-minded and interested individuals, by setting up a teaching apiary, expanding our current learning courses and creating a public viewing point for our Honeybee colonies.
A bit about us
We are the Polkemmet Beekeeping Association - a group of individuals who are crazy enough to look after millions of little honeybees who haven't learnt how to read any of the books we have on keeping them! This creates lots of fun stories which we can all laugh at after a good day's beekeeping.
Based in Polkemmet Country Park, near Bathgate, we are a non-profit organisation which has been running for about three years. Our team is made up of people from all walks of life - all excited and loving the hobby they are involved in. We have about 25 members, along with 15 new ‘Beeks’ (learners) from all over West Lothian, and some from further afield.
Sometimes we are a little eccentric in regards to our hobby, but we are a good fun bunch of people with a common interest, and a shared vision of spreading the word on the wonders of bees and beekeeping.
What we do and why it’s so important
As well as tending our own colonies, we currently offer courses of weekly teaching classes, covering all levels of learning from beginner to experienced. We offer space on our land where people can keep their hives if they don’t have their own space at home, and we provide practical support to help increase knowledge and skills within the beekeeping community.
The importance of bees to the environment is a topic which has received more and more recognition in recent times and for good reason. They are an absolutely essential piece of nature’s jigsaw puzzle and with a general decline in suitable and safe habitat, the bee population has also declined.
We want to do our part to help rectify that situation.
Education, education, education
To help increase the bee population in our area, we very much aim to educate new beekeepers in the best way of maintaining a successful colony. Aside from the technical aspects and basic equipment required, it’s important that a general knowledge and awareness of any local issues are understood, so that bees have the best chance of survival.
With the Scottish weather being so changeable and in particular, the potential for our harsh winters to affect the lifespan of bees, we take care to offer support to our learners for a full season (a season in beekeeping is a year). All too often we are contacted by people who have attended a short introductory course elsewhere, and are then left with little to no ongoing support through the cold winter months, when bees need extra care and feeding. Sadly, this leads to unsuccessful hives and disappointed beekeepers. Our full season support prevents this from happening and therefore has a much more positive impact on the number of bees surviving, and the happiness of their beekeepers.
Say no to imports!
Imports into the UK of non-native bee species has resulted in a decimation of our native bee population - the Apis mellifera mellifera (European dark bee). So teaching others about the plight of honeybees is desperately needed and this motivates us to teach others about the importance of home bred bees in Scotland, and all over the UK.
Roll up, roll up - get your news here!
As an affiliated member of the Scottish Beekeepers’ Association, we have access to the most current news and information from the world of beekeeping, which we then share with our members and interested followers. Important news, such as diseases being identified elsewhere in the country, so that our local beekeepers can then keep an eye out for it in their own hives. This is another essential role we play in helping to create a sustainable bee population in Scotland.
Growing our community
In order to build on our work so far, and further expand our reach, the Association plans to construct a full time teaching apiary for people to come along and learn the art of beekeeping, within a central location, for a full season.
They will gain knowledge and confidence in their own ability to look after honeybees, and also learn about the impact they have on the environment. During the Covid pandemic, we adapted our learning to incorporate online tutorials, and we plan to continue to offer a combination of online and hands-on learning to enable maximum flexibility for our Beeks.
After or during a season of learning, we then aim to provide additional sites in locations local to our members, to enable them to keep their bees closer to home; this will create a greater environmental benefit to their own area and also make it easier for them to travel to.
Alongside the teaching element, we aim to create an information booth at our main site, to act as a viewing point where the general public can observe us inspecting our bee colonies. We hope this will not only help to educate the wider public on bees and the environment, but also introduce new entrants to a hobby they might otherwise never consider.
And don’t forget the wildlife…..
We are privileged to be in a location surrounded by nature and wildlife and we always keep their needs in mind. After all, our Association would be nothing without them! As part of our plans, we will create a small pond on our site, to help encourage the associated pond life and provide a natural solution to drainage. Plus, the installation of three raised beds, full of bee friendly plants, and the planting of various trees and bushes will also help towards supporting our local ecosystem in a sustainable way.
Why are we crowdfunding?
To get to where we want to be there is a lot of physical building work to be completed. Although we are in an ideal location, our current set up is a little temporary and needs more permanent foundations to be laid.
With agreement from Polkemmet Country Park, planning permission for our large teaching shed has already been sought and we have estimated the total project cost to be around £36,000. Needless to say, as a non-profit organisation, run wholly by volunteers, we do not have a large reserve of funds to fall back on, which is why we are turning to you for your help.
Seven goals to success…..
We have broken down the overall project into seven smaller goals, which when completed will see us achieving our end goal.
We have created a graph depicting each goal that needs to be completed in our project, each priced separately. The 2nd & 6th goals are included in the prices for the pathways and the shed.
1st Goal - Fit new double gate; lay type 1 aggregate in the gate opening area; 13x10ft area.
2nd Goal - Clear area for teaching shed; put down type 1 aggregate as foundation to sit shed on; 30x25ft.
3rd Goal - Erect teaching shed; this will have a classroom for beekeeping classes, an open information booth for the general public, a honey extraction room, and a hive display area for people to observe hives being opened and checked, to see what’s involved; for safety, this will be a booth with see-through panels.
4th Goal - Improve site access; lay 170 metres of pathway to the hive locations to provide disabled access and help ease transportation of equipment. Pathways will include drainage to make the site secure and prevent flooding (a temporary boarded path is being used in some areas until location of effective drainage is assessed, prior to the permanent path being laid).
5th Goal - Slab area for hives; this will provide a more stable footing for hives and other equipment to be placed on; four areas will be 3x6ft and one area 20x20ft. (Hives are already settled into position and just need the work carried out for them to sit on).
6th Goal - Create our small pond; this will help with drainage on the site as well as providing lots of benefits for our bees and other wildlife;10x10ft and 4ft deep.
7th Goal - Plant various trees/bushes and bee friendly plants; this includes the three raised bed areas; we have already planted over 200 plants with the Ranger’s permission.
How you can help us
We need you to donate. We only ask that you give what you can - every penny counts and will be spent wisely.
For those local enough to visit our site, we're offering various opportunities to come along and see our bees, and learn more about beekeeping. But there’s limited availability, so get in quick!
We’re also offering an online course for those who aren't so local.
Or for those who just like the idea of more bees in the world, why not adopt a bee (or ten!).
If you prefer, you can simply click ‘Donate’ and enter an amount of your own choosing.
(N.B. tipping is optional when you pledge or donate).
Spreading the word
The Crowdfunder platform allows us the chance to make connections with people from all over West Lothian, Scotland and the UK. Please help us by sharing it with all your friends, family and acquaintances - you can even use the social media icons on this page.
Connect with us and follow our progress…..
Once we have enough funds raised, we believe that we can accomplish all of these goals within a year. We very much look forward to seeing everything take place and we'll be posting about our progress on our Facebook page Polkemmet-Beekeeping-Association, so please follow us if you would like to stay updated.
Or if you think you could help us in any other way (time or materials), please get in touch via email at [email protected] - we would be delighted to hear from you.
With huge thanks in anticipation of your support and generosity, from all at Polkemmet Beekeeping Association (and our bees!).