The Co-operative is funding Urban Bees to set up an urban teaching apiary and run a beekeeping course for 24 Londoners this summer.
The scheme is part of the Co-op’s Plan Bee campaign that is helping to address the worrying decline in the British honeybee population.
The Co-op piloted an urban apiary and beekeeping courses in Manchester last year, now it is rolling out the idea to inner city London and to Inverness.
In London, it asked Urban Bees to find a suitable site. We approached Camley Street Natural Park in King’s Cross with the idea of introducing honeybee colonies into the park and utilising its classroom facilities to run beekeeping classes. The nature park – an oasis of tranquillity behind one of the busiest train stations in Europe – is run by the London Wildlife Trust and is an established public recreational and educational facility. It readily agreed to host four training hives and is excited to be part of a project that will introduce more honeybees and more responsible beekeepers into the capital.
The project will get going next month when the bees have been delivered onsite and the would-be trainees selected from a long list of hopefuls who applied to the Co-op.
We’re going to be running the beekeeping one evening a week at Camley Street throughout the summer, with monthly sessions in the winter, so that we train a cohort of responsible new beekeepers in their first year.
As part of the scheme, the Co-op is proving hives, equipment and bees for the new beekeepers – that’s more than 1.2 million new honeybees introduced into the capital.
For aspiring apiarists not lucky enough to get a Co-op hive, we will also be running a series of short ‘introduction to beekeeping sessions’ over the summer at Camley Street. We will shortly be posting details about how you can apply for a place on one of these sessions.
Working with Camley Street Natural Park means that the project will be sustainable and have longevity after the Co-op funding runs out. And by incorporating the apiary into its educational framework, LWT will help to educate Londoners about the vital role honeybees play in the environment.
Urban Bees is very excited and privileged to be able to work with the Co-op and Camley Street Natural Park to encourage beekeeping in London.
We are hoping that people who attend the course will be able to share their experiences by posting photos, comments and blogs at a dedicated site.