Gardeners launch Salford’s first bee laboratory
Published by James Allan for Salix Homes in Communities and also in Environment, Housing
Jack Hobbs and Ian Molyneux outside one of the hives
A group of gardeners turned beekeepers have opened Salford’s first bee laboratory at their allotment site.
Kersal Vale Beekeepers now have a special bee laboratory at their site at Kersal Vale Allotments in Lower Kersal where they can examine the honey bees under a microscope to check them for potentially deadly diseases.
The laboratory, which has been partially funded by Salford-based social housing provider Salix Homes, enables the beekeepers to monitor the bees for disease such as Nosema and Acarine and ensure exotic pests such as the small hive beetle and the Asian hornet are not present in the apiary.
Harry Davies, chairman of Kersal Vale Allotment and Horticultural Society, is buzzing at the success of the bee project.
He said: “We are the only group in the area to have our own bee laboratory. We are assisting the National Bee Unit in the detection of exotic pests, particular the small hive beetle and the Asian hornet, which at present are not thought to be in the UK, but could have devastating effect on the honey bee colonies.”
The beekeepers use special traps to capture the exotic pests, but so far none have been found and the bees have been given a clean bill of health. Bee expert Ian Molyneux, the Northern Regional Bee Inspector, described the apiary as the “best he’d seen”, during one of his visits to the site.
Harry added: “The bees are thriving, they are out collecting pollen and nectar and last year alone they produced more than 200lb in weight of honey. We’ve not found a trace of any disease and the bees have all been given a clean bill of health.”
The green-fingered folk at the allotment site decided to turn their hand to beekeeping four years ago in a bid to provide an educational facility for locals.
Salix Homes, which manages 10,500 homes across Central Salford, helped get the project off the ground with a funding boost from its Your Salix, Your Say fund, which provides grants to worthwhile community projects.
The money was used to purchase hives, bee suits and to enable members to undergo specialist beekeeper training. The beekeepers secured a further £2,256 of Your Salix, Your Say funding this year as well as money from the East Salford Community Committee's Budget Sub Group to purchase the laboratory and equipment.
The apiary, which is now home to six hives and 500,000 bees, has regular visits from schools and community groups. A webcam has also been set up in the hive which is streamed live into the nearby Lower Kersal Primary School.
Harry added: “I’d like to say a big thank you to Salix Homes for funding the bee laboratory project, which is helping to protect the honey bee colonies that help to balance out the biodiversity of the environment in which we all live.”
Sue Sutton, director of customer and neighbourhood services at Salix Homes, added: “Salix Homes is committed to helping community organisations and we are very proud to have supported the bee project from the very beginning.
“This is a wonderful initiative that has gone from strength to strength. The fact the bees are doing so well is a real credit to the members who are so dedicated to the project and to teaching the wider community about the environmental benefits of beekeeping.”
If you’d like to visit Kersal Vale Apiary email email@example.com