Bute Produce new home for a high-tech honeybee hive

Beekeeper Rab Duff, who was assisted in transferring the bees by Keira Davidson.
Beekeeper Rab Duff, who was assisted in transferring the bees by Keira Davidson.

This week saw a high-tech beehive inhabited in Bute Produce, as part of a collaboration between the British Beekeeping Association, Bute’s social enterprise Fyne Futures and food company Eat Natural.

The project is called ‘Build the Buzz’ and aims to gather data from hives across the UK to assist with researching methods of sustaining honeybee populations.

The hive is set up at the Bute Produce site in Rothesay. and is now populated by hundreds of ‘Buckfast bees’, supplied by the North Ayrshire Beekeepers Association on Tuesday, June 6.

The bees are part of a manmade strain bred at Buckfast Abbey in Devon over the course of the 20th century, and are known for their honey.

Bute Produce hopes to eventually offer honey made by the bees, and will also take the opportunity to educate Bute’s children on the nature of honeybees and study their behaviour using the high-tech hive.

Bute’s Buckfast bees are now in the care of Rab Duff, a gardener at Bute Produce, who recently completed a six-month course in proper beekeeping and who will check on them once a week.

He carried out the transferral of the bees from their travel case to the hive, which is kitted out with monitoring equipment that will let Rab keep track of the bees’ behaviour and environment.

Rab told the Buteman: “The training course was quite intensive, I went over to the mainland once a week over the six months to learn how to look after them and things like that.

“I was excited to finally get the bees over here and it will be good to get them settled in now.

“We can pretty much leave them to themselves to get acquainted with the place, I’ll check on them once a week and maintain the hive but they’ll get on with it themselves really.”

Bute Produce is one of the branches of Fyne Futures, a company which aims to promote environmental sustainability on Bute.

Reeni Kennedy-Boyle of Fyne Futures said: “In keeping with Fyne Futures environmental objectives, we are excited to take part in the ‘Build the Buzz’ initiative which will put Bute on the map again for its commitment to bio-diversity and sustainable food production.

“Data obtained from the Build the Buzz project will be analysed with the aim of assisting in the research and development of practical solutions to support beekeepers in maintaining a healthy honeybee population.”