In 2016 a group of Beekeepers from Surrey Honey Farm Ltd began research into new and innovative solutions to help the rapidly declining bee population. Over time they became aware that collecting and keeping swarms reported by the general public was not actually helping the wild bee population survive. It improved pollination but it was clear that this was not enough. They looked for innovative ways to ensure that bee keeping in the UK could become a two way process; gathering pristine honey for the consumer whilst also playing a part in rejuvenating the environment and ecosystems that supported our wild honey bees.
Around the same time, their company Surrey Honey Farm Ltd was looking for safe ways to donate bees to good causes. As their corporate colonies grew, there were surplus bees to rehouse elsewhere and this was becoming a problem. The consequence of oversized corporate colonies created an ethos of best environmental regeneration and this fuelled the need to create practise ways to re-home surplus bees into the wild and not just reselling the bees to other beekeepers for financial gain.
Their chosen solution was to provide secure homes for roaming urban spring swarms and their own surplus bees from urban colonies, releasing them into the wild to prosper and work with nature to rejuvenate the local areas in which they were situated. 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 presides 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.