Buckley’s Bees: A look at ‘Best Rural Start Up Business’ winner
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Clients, who now include Taylor Wimpey, organic farm brand Yeo Valley and Bentley Motors, can choose to welcome a hive, sourced from sustainable wood, on site. Alternatively they can sponsor one.
Either way, they stand to reap many benefits and their action cannot come too soon as one third of the UK’s bee population has disappeared over the past decade, explains owner Emma Buckley.
“Bees are the key to a balanced ecosystem and we make engaging with them accessible. Clients come from a wide variety of sectors but they all want to make a difference helping the environment.
“Having hive boosts sustainability credentials and all of them share an infectious interest in the amazing work of the honeybee.”
Costs start from £700 a year and hive hosts just need a flat hard surface space in a temperate place, protected from frost and damp.
“Our managed beekeeping scheme supports customers providing the hives, ensuring good levels of food for the bees and other pollinators,” says Buckley.
“We also offer beekeeping courses. Employee engagement opportunities enable staff to get up close and learn about the bees, something that can help colleague welfare.
“Our honey is popular but not the focus of our business – that’s always on education and awareness.”
Buckley’s breeds its own queens and colonies. “This ensures good health, hygiene and survival. Stock is not diluted by imports, which can lead to more aggressive bees and upset the natural balance, but is being done to increase honey production rates,” adds Buckley.
With the aim of creating pockets of hives nationwide, Buckley’s works with a network of freelance beekeepers.
Dad David, a leading and longstanding figure in the Bee Improvement and Bee Breeders Association, has been her inspiration. He was the founder of the business that she joined a decade ago after studying for an agri-business degree at Harper Adams University and working for a fleet company.
“I always wanted to run my own business, beekeeping is my DNA and we saw the corporate potential. At last the environmental message is being taken to heart and interest is picking up,” she says.
Buckley’s expects to grow 40 percent over the next couple of years and expand its network both in the UK and further afield in Europe and New Zealand. Another ambition is to work with more organisations and charities including wildlife trusts.
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But with the average age of the UK’s beekeepers now 60, Buckley is also keener than ever to drive awareness, taking the skill of beekeeping to younger generations.
“We work with schools and communities as well as businesses, hold open days, and display at shows and festivals,” she explains.
“We take an observation hive containing live colony and this opens the door to talk about other pollinators and why they are so important. We demonstrate the process of pollination using flowers and props.”
“When people buy honey we urge them to use local sources, not heat treated blends. This way the greatest nutritional goodness possible is preserved and local beekeepers are supported.”
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