In 2016 a group of Beekeepers from Surrey Honey Farm Ltd began to consider new and innovative ways to help the rapidly declining bee population. They concluded that collecting and keeping swarms reported by the general public was not actually helping the wild bee population survive because there was no reintroduction process. Beekeepers literally kept all the swarms for themselves. This has created a national ethos of collecting and keeping bees on behalf of mother nature, becoming the custodians and the protectors of the remnants of our wild honey bee gene stock.
The second consequence of collecting and then merging these feral swarms into huge colonies was the hovering up of large amounts of pollinator food supplies within a 4Km radius of the apiary.
Wooden framed beehives create artificially large colonies compared to a wild hollow tree colony. Manufactured wooden framed beehives can produce more than 50 kilos of surplus honey compared to wild hollow tree colonies that nature ensures only gather sufficient to feed the bees.
Thus the beekeepers chosen solution was to provide secure homes for the reintroduction ferral swarms back into the wild. This is how the concept of The Blue Box emerged. Just like a bird or bat box The Blue Box provides a safe space for wild bees to live and thrive. It sounds obvious but it is not as easy as it looks to reintroduce urban swarms and ensurethe ferral swarms survive.
And so, the project was named BeesMAX (to maximise the potential of the honey bee) and the not-for-profit company by limited guarantee was formed.
However it soon became apparent there were other socially beneficial aspects to the project:
Partnering with schools
The remote data collection systems being installed at each rehoming site collected vast amounts of data as well as providing the management tools necessary to make the project commercially sustainable. This data is being turned in graphs and other visual tools explaining the day to day life of a honey bee colony. This is now being given to schools to create lesson plans and investigative activities that will contribute to their school curriculums in engineering, maths, science and technology.
Testing of honey for pesticides and contaminants
In 2017 the concern over imported honey was culminating in many millions of pounds being put into verifying how and why pesticides and contaminants were appearing in some samples of honey that were tested fit for human consumption. Since then the Centre for Hydrology and Water has started advertising for honey samples to verify the DNA footprint and for pesticides and other contaminants. The BeesMAX project will provide a unique sampling regime not available from anyone else. The other samples of honey being tested will predominantly come from urbanised honey bees which are being affected by pesticides in the gardens of towns and cities across the UK.
Visiting hives for an immersive experience
If your partner school cannot have their own apiary or the corporate does not have space for bees on their own premises they can visit other organisations who can provide the immersive experience. Whether you need the one day course or just the shorter introduction, our partner farms, wineries and other outside attractions specialise in a providing practical hands-on beekeeping experience, as well as their core services and products.