Groundwork Sheffield recognises that pollination is not a free service and requires investment and stewardship to maintain it. The Bee Buddies project aimed to maintain the traditional skill of beekeeping within the city, by encouraging urban dwellers to take up the hobby and diversify the beekeeping community. By boosting honeybee populations, local pollination rates will improve and local biodiversity will be maintained.
The project addressed the following issues:
- Honeybee population decline
- Decline in local biodiversity
- Loss of bee foraging and nesting habitat
- Lack of awareness surrounding the plight of honeybees
- Declining opportunities for the community to interact with the natural environment in urban areas
- Declining interest in beekeeping
35 honeybee hives were introduced over 7 apiary sites (5 hives per site). Hives were placed at sites which maximise engagement opportunities, such as community farms and allotments. Introduced apiaries were managed weekly for a 12 month period by a fully qualified Head Beekeeper, along with 2 appointed Bee Stewards from each of the sites. During the weekly site visits the Head Beekeeper transferred skills and knowledge to the Bee Stewards, and the care of the hives was gradually passed into the site’s ownership. All colonies were registered with The National Bee Unit.
15 educational sessions were delivered to local communities and schools to raise interest in beekeeping and the plight of bees. Sessions included information about what can be done at a local level to help bee survival rates. Sessions were delivered using installed apiaries, observation hives and supporting educational resources including a teachers pack and beekeepers pocket guide.
20,000m² of bee habitat was created through the use of a specialist bee seed mix which was distributed to schools and local communities. Solitary bee houses were also issued to increase available habitat for solitary bees.