The Story So Far
In 2010 what would become a passion began. I was contacted to rescue a wild colony of honey bees from a building which was about to be demolished and from that day, rescuing has developed into wanting to spread knowledge and interest in the healing and other beneficial qualities of honey, venom and propolis. As of the start of 2020, I am lucky to tend to around 20 colonies of mostly mixed strain honey bees. It is now, with the introduction of producing many honey-based products, time to push my hobby into a brighter light, raise awareness for our native bee, and promote the versatile nature of the wonderful honey.
It is vital, not only for the British bee, but also for our local crops, that we nurture the humble honey bee. Through this crowdfunder, I hope to be able to grow the colony numbers, purchase sustainable housing for them, and ensure as close to zero waste as it possible to achieve. If you support me, not only will you receive a fund appropriate reward from the bees, but you will be part of a legacy which will hopefully continue to benefit our families for future generations.
Why this bee, why now ?
The British Native Honey Bee (Apis Mellifera Mellifera, or British Black Bee) was once the predominant strain of domestically kept honey bee in the UK. However, following a catastrophic disease in the 1950's,she was all but eliminated. It is commonly believed this disease arrived in the UK carried by Queen Bees imported from Italy. The AMM strain is known to be highly adaptable to our ever-changing UK climate. They are able to fly at lower temperatures which increases the foraging opportunities and this, along with their fortitude to withstand winter with fewer stores, as is an increasing occurrence in this country, makes this strain a bee fit for the future.
Seeing the huge decline in bee numbers a monk, named Brother Adam, worked tirelessly to rebuild the population by cross breeding imported strains. We know, from genetic research of the descendants of those bees, that the original Black Bee make up is still present and the desirable qualities, can once again be brought forward.
In 2019 over 20,000 Queens were imported to the UK mainly from Southern Europe. While this may be seen as something of a success for the bee population, those imported bees do not have the resilience of native and locally adapted bees and, in increasing the bee population by almost 35% from 2017/18, it poses a clear risk to the UK biodiversity and biosecurity.
We almost lost our bee population once, in pledging to this crowdfunder, you are helping to raise awareness, and spread education, to prevent a similar environmental catastrophe for the future.
How will the honey bee numbers increase with you ?
Of the 20 established colonies currently thriving, 8 have had AMM queens successfully introduced. As the 2020 season starts my aim is to divide my existing colonies. All of the new colonies will have an AMM queen introduced which will be selectively bred from my original Mother colonies. The breeding programme will be a combination of open mating and employing Instrumental Insemination techniques. These techniques and results will be passed forward to other new and existing bee keepers to encourage them to breed from existing UK stock rather that purchasing imported Queens.
Where will my money go?
When you decide to participate in this crowdfunder, not only will you receive my humble thanks, but your support will allow me to boost colony numbers more rapidly than I otherwise could. Future hives purchased will be constructed from recycled wood (scaffolding boards) to maintain an environmentally friendly aspect. Select hive products such as traditional dipped candles, food wraps, and cosmetics are already being produced with help from the existing bees. With your help, this will increase to incorporate a wider range of products as well as developing preserve and confectionary items.
More honey and more products mean a greater revenue can be invested back into the expansion of the colony numbers. This will establish an Instrumental Insemination Programme which will offer greater stability for the project as a whole. Following from this, we should be able to assist in the sale of bees to new and established bee keepers. The aim is to achieve a 100 colony target within 3-5 years.
To continue the growth of knowledge and understanding, I offer free school and youth group visits which are a lot of fun and positive feedback from the children and parents is fantastic. With your funding, we will be able to expand the teaching and education programme for schools, groups, and the wider general public, focusing on practical sustainable living and environmental awareness. Funding will also enable the purchase of better teaching aids and visuals. There will also be a YouTube channel, complementing my Facebook and Instagram platforms, which will offer practical tutorials on beekeeping techniques, crafting projects, product reviews and comparisons, and project updates.
This project works closely with local land owners with a view to boosting and supporting existing hedgerows and wildflowers. We have already successfully planted over an acre of wildflower meadow locally and have received expressions of interest from significant land owners, one being a rail network. Your funding will better enable this phase of the project to continue. Giving us the resources to purchase necessary equipment.
I am fortunate to have been offered several exciting opportunities but this next step is a bigger leap than I am able to achieve. Your financial support would enable this project to reach new heights.