Bees are a vital part of our ecosystem. Along with other insect, they pollinate over 75% of our plants and it is estimated that a third of our food production is solely reliant on pollination by bees.
The British honey bee population has rapidly decreased in recent years and there has been a huge drop in the number of active bee hives. This has been attributed to the intensification of farming techniques, parasitic mites and climate change.
Concerned by the declining honey bee population in the Kelvin Valley, Kilsyth Community Market Garden established Kelvin Valley Honey (KVH). KVH is a social enterprise owned and run by residents of the upper Kelvin Valley. It aims to increase the number of residents directly and actively involved in beekeeping and honey production.
One of the aims of KVH is to return vacant and derelict land to productive and environmentally beneficial use. It encourages the planting of native flowering woodland trees, fruit trees, fruit shrubs and wild flowers so as to create additional bee friendly habitats on these sites.
KVH employs two members of staff. They deliver training and support in the skills of beekeeping, honey and beeswax production, and habitat creation and conservation. The initiative also established and supports a number of crafts centres producing items from the by-products of honey such as beeswax candles, furniture polish and natural cosmetics. Through these and other activities, KVH provides opportunities for unemployed and disabled people to learn new skills and generate income through home working.
Between 2011 and 2013 Kelvin Valley Honey has:
KVH provides training and support for budding bee keepers and conservationists, and directly engages disadvantaged and housebound individuals in the production of beeswax by-products. It also benefits neighbouring agricultural enterprises through increased pollination activities.
KVH has increased the biodiversity of the Kelvin Valley through its tree planting and flower seed distribution programmes. The local environment has also benefited from an increased bee population and the resultant pollination of local greenspace plants.
"Kelvin Valley Honey has increased my environmental awareness, provided a new interest, equipped me with additional skills and an alternative and additional source of income."
Carole Greenlees, KVH Trainee
"We recognise the importance of achieving a sustainable and healthy population of honeybees to maintain honey production in Scotland. The Scottish Government welcomes the Kelvin Valley Honey initiative to raise awareness of beekeeping and create bee friendly habitats through environmental improvements."
Richard Lochhead, MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs & Environment
Winners of the Coalfields Regeneration Trust Community Challenge Award, 2012
Scottish Finalists in Yell.Com The Pitch Small Businesses Awards, 2012
Scottish Runners Up, Barclays Take One Small Step Small Awards, 2011
KVH received funding as part of the 2011/12 CSGN Development Fund. Its work contributes directly to the economic, social and physical regeneration of the Kelvin Valley. It promotes the vision of the CSGN by greening vacant and derelict land, investing in biodiversity through tree planting and flower seed distribution, encouraging community growing, and creating new habitats for the struggling honey bee population.
KVH anticipates a sustained increase in the honeybee population of the Kelvin Valley. From an initial 45 colonies in 2011, the number of colonies grew to 90 in 2012 and there are expected to be over 160 colonies by the end of 2013.
The poor summer of 2012 impacted negatively on the production of honey in that year. As a result, there was insufficient honey to fulfil local demand and the launch of additional ranges of cosmetic, natural beauty and food related products was delayed. It is hoped that the increasing honey bee population will result in improved honey yields and will enable the successful launch of these products in 2013.
KVH is supporting the development of similar projects in Falkirk, Inverclyde, Moray and Stirlingshire. It is also working to establish honey producing social enterprises in secondary schools and urban honeybee colonies on the roofs of hotels in Glasgow and Edinburgh.
Subject to demand, KVH also intend to deliver a beehive hire service to soft and hard fruit growers and orchards throughout the region.
|2011||CSGN Development Fund||53,335|