Huge buzz around Co-op’s bee idea

TEAMWORK Left to right, Lee Franklin, of Southern Co-operative, his colleague Austin Taylor, John Perry of Portsmouth Beekeepers Association, Southern Co-operative chief executive Mark Smith and David Nield of Portsmouth Beekeepers Association
TEAMWORK Left to right, Lee Franklin, of Southern Co-operative, his colleague Austin Taylor, John Perry of Portsmouth Beekeepers Association, Southern Co-operative chief executive Mark Smith and David Nield of Portsmouth Beekeepers Association
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IT’S bound to cause a buzz of excitement – staff at a Portsmouth business have come up with the sweet idea of becoming beekeepers.

The Southern Co-operative, which recently moved to Lakeside, North Harbour, has set up four hives on its premises. The firm, which has shops around the area, set up the hives to support Plan Bee, a national campaign highlighting the decline of the honey bee population in the UK.

The company’s sister society The Co-operative Group launched the awareness initiative two years ago.

The hives will be looked after by volunteers from the Portsmouth and District Bee Keepers Association.

Training sessions will be given by association members for colleagues who want to find out more about the bees.

It is hoped the habitat will help them breed and build colonies.

John Perry, from the PDBKA, which has over 80 members, said: ‘In the past decade, bee numbers have declined for a number of reasons, not all of which are fully understood.

‘Research continues, but in the meantime beekeepers, amateur and professional, are managing their bees, trying to keep numbers up.

‘It is good that The Southern Co-operative is supporting these efforts.’

Lee Franklin, from The Southern Co-operative, who is managing the project for the business, said: ‘The relocation of our head office to Lakeside, a mature landscaped environment, provided us with an excellent opportunity to set up and manage our own apiary.

‘We’re pleased to support our sister society in this campaign by doing something practical towards its end goal.

‘Thanks to Lakeside management we were granted a significant plot of land for our project to work.

‘Myself and our society vice-chairman have registered with the British Beekeepers’ Association and we will be getting involved with looking after the hives.’

Nick Turner, who represents the management of the Lakeside site, said: ‘We were only too pleased to be able to offer space as a habitat beneficial to bees.’