A bit of foresight and ingenuity can go a long way when it comes to planning where to position an apiary in order to maximize the benefits to the honeybees.
As an example, here is a match made it honey heaven. British Gypsum has a mine at Fauld, in East Staffordshire in the UK. It is now being used as a base for a sweet business. Beeworthy Hives is a sustainable beekeeping business based near Uttoxeter. It is a small family business, run by Kathy and Kevin Shaw, who together have a combined 80 years of experience with bees. They make their own hives from sustainable certified wood.
They were seeking a maximum potential location for six beehives, which in summer housed around 80,000 bees per hive… close to half a million bees pollinating crops and plants in the surrounding area.
They chose British Gypsum because the property had so many natural advantages. It seems they made the right choice because their business is booming. Both the location and conditions are perfect to keep the honey flowing. It is close to water and woods—a river, ponds and plenty of gorse and bee-friendly trees like Alder and Willow.
The Shaws are very pleased with their results, and the bees have been very productive. Honey has been harvested and packaged for local shops and they kept some for the British Gypsum site team to enjoy.
British Gypsum realizes that bees are struggling, and they are happy to provide them with healthy foraging grounds, where insecticides and other stressors are not present. They support the work of Staffordshire Wildlife Trust and enjoy encouraging and protecting local biodiversity around their mine site.
Both parties are happy with the partnership. This is the sort of strategy that is a bit off the beaten path but it can benefit bees anywhere. Next time you are in a position to seek out a location for a beehive, please keep in mind that evaluating the lay of the land and the natural assets can make a huge difference that sets you and your bees up for healthy success.
Beeworthy Hives entered into a similar unique relationship with Freedom Brewery in 2015. Hives were positioned at the foot of the water purification system, and willows and reeds were planted to help the bees.
If you know of any such unique partnerships in your part of the world, please share them with us over on our Facebook page.