Tell us a bit about yourself.
My name is Martin Swift and I'm the founder and owner of Beeshack.org.uk. I've been keeping bees for 7 years now and I currently have 45 colonies which will increase up to 60 this year.
Why have you chosen Tempest for a hive?
Well Tempest actually got in touch with me because they're an environmentally focused company and wanted to put a beehive on the roof. And, you know it's really working well with us.
How many bees are currently at Tempest?
There's approximately around 30,000 bees.
Whats the current problem with bees at the moment in the UK and worldwide?
We've got a few problems. One is pesticides; the biggest problem. The second problem is the Varroa mite, which you can't eradicate but you can control it. It bites the bee and causes cuts which in turn causes viruses, weakens the bee and then it dies off. So we can only manage that and not eradicate it.
We've got another problem that may hit us, which is the small hive beetle. It lays its eggs in the hive, the larvae eats the bees, the honey, the wax. Then it burrows out, pupates to a beetle and then the whole cycle starts again. Being a port [in Liverpool] it means we're red hot on the list for it actually coming- it'll probably come in on food. Liverpool and Portsmouth etc, they're the hot spots in the country.
Why is it important that we are aware of and involved in the issue?
I think it's really important because they're the base of the food chain. Without them we wouldn't have any food. If we didn't have pollinators, we'd have four years to live. Initially there wouldn't be any apples, pears or oranges. Then we'd just be down to grains, barley, wheat and then that'll eventually die out. You'd even have no animals because there would be no feed for animals, so its a knock on effect all around.
But it's also important for people, generally, to plant bee-friendly flowers because city beekeeping is FAR better than rural beekeeping. Rural beekeeping, you've got a monocrop which maybe flower for two months and then is barren after that. So city bees thrive a lot more.
How does the produce compare from city bees to rural bees?
Outside in the countryside you have mono crops so therefore you'll have a certain type of flavour and because of all the seedrape, it sets and crystallises. It's gritty and it's very bland. But because of the different varieties of flowers and trees in the city, the flavour varies from early season honey to late season honey. It's so wide and so different.
This hive at Tempest, the honey will even taste different from south of Liverpool because the bees are just foraging on different things.
Tell us about your beekeeping classes.
At the moment I'm working as a sessional tutor at Blackburne House which has been awarded just short of £1m from Our Bright Future and is linked to the Wildlife Trust to deliver beekeeping over the next five years to 17-24 year olds. So if anyone wants to get involved, they can get in touch with Blackburne House and I also privately run courses for corporations.
For more info on the Beeshack or beekeeping lessons, visit Beeshack.org.uk
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