Generation Bee

3rd March 2014 by

Generaton Bee

Hello

I am writing from Bosavern Community Farm in deepest Cornwall where I have been WWOOFing for the last month.*  It is a wonderful place and I would highly recommend it to any WWOOFers reading this.

I left London to WWOOF around the UK at the end of January, a move partly inspired by the 3 wonderful weeks I spent almost entirely outside in the sunshine on my Otesha tour last summer.  I am very excited about my year as I’m planning on farming in places I’ve wanted to visit for years – lambing in Shetland, cycling round the Outer Hebrides, Crofting on the Isle of Eigg and learning Beekeeping in Dumfries.

The beekeeping is uncertain at the moment.  It is part of a project I am involved in to cultivate new beekeepers both through training and through the production more affordable starter hives which we hope will encourage people to start beekeeping.   We need to raise £5000 for this project to go ahead, and are trying to fund it with a crowd-funding campaign found here: www.crowdfunder.co.uk/generationbee.

Bees are struggling at the moment, they are afflicted by parasites and disease, by pesticides, by poor management and, surprisingly, by disinterest.  Although the plight of the bees features regularly in the media, Beekeeping in Europe, either as a hobby or a livelihood has fallen by 54% in the last 20 years, leaving us with far less than the optimum number of colonies for crop pollination.  As bees are a crucial pollinator, responsible for a third of our food, this loss of bees is detrimental to both our food security and the health of our ecosystems.

The UK is no longer a friendly place for bees. The parasitic varroa mite has destroyed most, if not all, wild bee colonies and is seriously affecting the health of ‘domesticated’ bees.  Furthermore, the increase in mono-crop farming, pesticide use and loss of hedgerows and meadows means that nectar is in much shorter supply.  These problems have affected honey yields and made beekeeping a less profitable and riskier business.

In November last year I saw a host on the WWOOF UK website seeking keen young people who wanted to learn beekeeping.  I have been interested in beekeeping for years, I’ve WWOOFed with many beekeepers, and had the luck to work for the London Honey Company where I enjoyed tasting delicious honey from around the UK and further afield.   Besides really liking honey, the variety in flavour, clarity, colour and consistency just amazes me, as does the history of beekeeping which has been practised for thousands of years all around the world.

I immediately emailed to ask if I could come and learn beekeeping and Luisa (the beekeeper) was very keen to host both myself and another trainee over the summer season.  However, as her young business only just covers the rent of one room, she has nowhere for us to stay.  I suggested doing a crowd-funding campaign to fund both the trainee beekeepers and another project to produce more affordable bee colonies and starter hives to encourage people to start beekeeping.

In January I took the night bus to Glasgow and met both Luisa and the 4 other volunteers working on what was soon to be christened the Generation Bee project.  The name is meant to reflect both aspects of the project, we want to train up a new generation of beekeepers, and we want to generate more bees by selling young colonies at an affordable price to interested individuals and schools.

There is more information and an exciting video on the campaign website – www.crowdfunder.co.uk/generationbee.  We have only 33 days left to reach our £5000 goal and there are some fabulous rewards for pledges including E-booklets on how to cook with honey, make natural beauty products, plant bee-friendly flowers and more, all written by the team (the Gormet drone recipe e-booklet is mine.)  There are also the workshops on beekeeping and beauty product and candle making which are going to be run in Dumfries on the 26th and 27th of April (only £35 for a 2 hour session).  I feel a bit cheeky asking people to support this campaign, as I will directly benefit from it.  However this year is the trial run and crucial for building up the business.  Luisa is very passionate about training young beekeepers so I am sure that the success of this campaign will lead to more training positions available each year, as well as starter hives with young colonies sold at about half the normal price.

Please pledge if you can and spread the word by sharing the campaign with anyone who might be interested in supporting it.

Thank you,

Jessie.

*WWOOFing aims to provide volunteers with first-hand experience in organic and ecologically sound growing methods, to help the organic movement, and to let volunteers experience life in a rural setting or a different country.

One summer, 120 campaigns

14th October 2013 by

This summer we have been cycling back and forth across London, working with thousands of young people in Hackney, Haringey, Tower Hamlets, Enfield, Waltham Forest, Newham and Redbridge (I think that was all!). The young people have all been participating in The Challenge – three weeks of summer fun, ranging from exciting outdoor activities, to learning practical skills, and best of all designing and running their own campaigns.

We gave them an intensive workshop on setting up a project or campaign – how to make it relevant, effective, and how to ensure it has a positive impact on people and planet. We worked with 120 teams of young people, and a couple of them also came to visit our offices and do a bit of volunteering for us. While they were here they fixed loads of inner tubes for us to use at our free Dr Bike sessions for the local community of Regents Estate, Hackney (they’re most Tuesdays 5-6pm if you need a helping hand getting your bike in shape).

wild bikes

Designed and created some beautiful Otesha handbook covers so we can send them out to schools visited on cycle tours. And… the activity they seemed to enjoy the most: stickering flyers for our Branch Out programme with up to date info about our next training programme!

A big thanks to them all for their hard work. They ran their campaigns a couple of weekends ago, and we received some lovely pre-campaign updates from a couple of groups ready and raring to change the world!

 


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