Whitbread PLC sponsor the BeesMax beehives and associated services to provide a direct and meaningful contribution to the local community. The beehive apiary at Whitbread’s HQ in Dunstable has been open for local schools to visit, with pupils learning close up about the life and importance of bees, and another way for young people to build their self-confidence in a unique environment.

Tithe Barn Primary School have taken full advantage of the Whitbread beehives, and their most recent visit is the biggest and most adventurous to date.

Pupils ready to visit the beehive

The day started with 42 children arriving at the Whitbread reception and breaking up into groups of 8. Groups would take it in turn to visit and explore the BeesMax hives, spend time indoors looking at wild comb, and seeing how honey is removed from the combs using a honey spinner.

The school visit – behind the scenes

At the hive the pupils learnt about the drones and the queen cells, and saw the wild comb inside the hive. Pupils also learnt how the invention of the wooden beehive changed forever the way we manage bees for the production of food.

The importance of small beehive management

And discussions ensued on the amount of food we take out of the local environment, the needs of the bees, and the environmental impact of beehives. For example, pupils heard about the territory of a honey bee is as far as 3 miles in any direction from the hive. That means all the gallons of honey the domesticated honey bees collect is collected from the immediate vicinity of their hive. As a result of this restricted territory, whatever bees take out of the environment the other pollinators and other insects within their territory cannot use to live on. Therefore small beehive management  is environmentally quite important, and this is what brings us on to the natural phenomenon of swarming.

Natural habitat and swarming

BeesMAX promotes small beehive management so as not to take excessive amounts of nectar from the 3 mile radius honey bees occupy as a territory. Wild honey bee colonies are restricted in size because they have natural homes, for example in hollow trees, which allows only small sized colonies to develop and grow. That means these smaller colonies swarm more frequently, generating more self-sufficient colonies, which fly elsewhere and accelerate the process of natural selection. Frequent swarming promotes the strongest bees to survive and weeds out the weak bees and develops the local gene stock adjusted to local conditions.

The pupils from Tithe Barn Primary School may not have quite got that far in 15 mins but that is a flavour of the environmental awareness BeesMAX is promoting.

Contact us here or use the message box below if you wish to support initiatives being developed by BeesMax linking companies with environmental and educational projects in the local community. Our next generation learning about sustainability and helping to reverse the bee population in the UK.