One couple’s bid to help save the British bee population

A COUPLE with a passion for bee keeping have launched a hive management scheme in a bid to help save the declining British honeybee population.

Andre and Jane Cardona, of Hitchin Road in Stotfold, first began their pursuit of The Good Life six years ago, with two pigs in their garden.

Now they have a smallholding, nine bee hives and a number of fruit trees, supplying the likes of The Rusty Gun in St Ippolyts with fresh produce.

About bee keeping, 35-year-old Andre said: “I started it as a hobby. I went out collecting swarms of bees about two years ago and set up a couple of hives.

“Last year I got a lot of calls regarding swarms of bees and I moved on to having nine hives.

“I looked at it that I was saving these bees from pest controllers and from being a nuisance to people.”

Andre and Jane want to raise awareness of the decline of honeybees in Britain, the significant impact this is having on the ecosystem, and what businesses can do to help save these insects.

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Jane said: “Bees are a vital part of our ecosystem – two of every three mouthfuls we eat are due to pollination by bees.

“However, British honeybees are in crisis, their population dwindling at an alarming rate due to virus, pesticide and mite.

“We should all be concerned about their future.”

Andre, who gives talks at schools in the area to raise awareness, added: “We really need to be doing more for them.”

The recent bad weather has only been adding to the honeybees’ plight.

“With all the rain we have been having, the bees haven’t been able to go out and forage, so they have been indoors eating their stores of honey,” explained Andre.

“I have been feeding my swarms on fondant, but the wild bees out there could easily be starving right now if they haven’t got a good supply of honey in their colonies.

“At the moment, the rape is out, but they are not able to go out and make use of it. Once it’s gone, there’s not going to be a lot for them to forage on.”

Andre and Jane, who have a four-year-old boy called Santiago, have launched a not-for-profit hive management scheme to encourage businesses in the area looking for new ways to become environmentally responsible to get involved in bee keeping.

Jane said: “It will enable businesses and organisations to keep bees without getting their hands sticky!

“The proposal is to set up hives at their location, manage the hives to keep the bees happy and healthy, and at the end of the season they get to keep all the lovely honey.

“The hope is to pull together a strong network of local businesses which will not only preserve our local bees but bring greater awareness to their importance.”

For more information about the hive management scheme, call Andre on 07958655962.