A Salford enterprise bringing beekeeping into community groups is looking for local businesses get involved in the initiative.
Salford Bee Collective was started in June 2010 with just a single hive with the aim of educating and inspiring communities about the importance of bees and beekeeping.
Eighteen months on, the collective has grown to accommodate four populated hives located at the University of Salford, and its honey production has increased from 40lbs in 2010 to 200lbs this year.
“It struck me as an ideal opportunity for a social enterprise,” said collective founder and chairman, Chris Guthrie. “With the national bee population under threat, the more bee keepers in the UK the better.”
The collective has been awarded a Catalyst Fund grant from the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce and last week, independent Manchester-based PR firm Ethos agreed to sponsor one of the group’s beehives.
Shaun Fisher, Director of Ethos, said: “When we found out about The Salford Bee Collective and their plans for the future, we couldn’t wait to pledge our support.
“We have a real interest in promoting local, sustainable food and are keen that more people understand where their food comes from. “
Such funding has allowed the collective to purchase commercial honey extracting equipment as they try to develop a local co-operative to collect, process and market sustainable Salford honey.
For their support, Ethos staff are to be presented with jars of Salford honey.
Other partnerships involve Salford City College, whose woodwork department build the hives, and The Broughton Trust, who allow the collective to use the kitchen in The Humphrey Booth Day Care Centre in Lower Broughton to harvest, process and bottle the honey.
“We have been looking to get local businesses involved in this initiative and are delighted that Ethos public relations has helped by sponsoring a hive,” said Mr Guthrie.
“We are continually looking for other sponsors, so if any other businesses want jars of honey for their office then please get in touch.”
The collective currently provide honey used on the menus of Salford restaurants The Mark Addy and The Crescent.
Gill Maclean from the British Beekeeping Association said that bees are in danger of disappearing from our environment due to farming practices destroying habitats and from the influx of the varroa mite, which has killed off most of the wild bee colonies in the country.
Bee populations are vital to the environment and to our society as they are the main pollinators of plants and crops, with up to a third of the food we eat being produced by this process of pollination.
Ms Maclean said that urban beekeeping projects such as this help maintain the county’s bee population by taking advantage of the diversity of plants in parks and domestic gardens.
Membership of the Salford Bee Collective runs throughout the honey season, from April to September.
Anyone interested in joining or supporting the collective can email firstname.lastname@example.org while anyone wishing to learn more about beekeeping can visit http://www.bbka.org.uk/