Vote for us at Barclay's Take One Small Step competition
Kelvin Valley Honey has reached the finals of Barclay's Take One Small Step competition which carries a prize of £50,000. If we win the money will mean that we can extend the project further and faster. Please vote for Kelvin Valley Honey by going to www.takeonesmallstep.co.uk , click on finalists and Kelvin Valley Honey and vote. You will receive an email from Barclay's asking you to confirm your vote for Kelvin Valley Honey. Alternatively text Kelvin 62555. Kelvin Valley Honey is the only social enterprise to reach the finals from a UK wide entry of 1,800.
Kelvin Valley Honey is an initiative of Kilsyth Community Market Garden a Company Limited by Guarantee with charitable aims owned and managed by residents of the Upper Kelvin Valley.
The project was born out of people's concerns about the dramatic decline in the area's honey bee population in recent years and the negative impact this has on crop, wildlife and certain woodland trees pollination. The decline is due to a number of factors, amongst which are: the increase in Varroa Destructor mite, American and European Foul Brood infestation, Colony Collapse Disorder, couple these factors with the especially harsh winters in 2009 - 2010 and 2010 - 2011 together with substantial reductions in the numbers of people keeping honey bees. It is estimated that in the past two years the local areas honey bee population has fallen by 2 million bees with fewer than 50 colonies involving a few handfuls of beekeepers remaining.
The overall objectives of Kelvin Valley Honey are:
- To raise awareness of the importance of bees in the food production chain and promote the conservation and creation of additional bee friendly natural habitats in urban, urban fringe and rural areas
- To raise awareness of the importance of bees in food production to the 'next generation' thereby increasing the active involvement of young people in habitat conservation/creation ,beekeeping and honey production.
- To conserve the areas native woodland species through ensuring a sufficient bee population to maintain and increase pollination of flowering varieties such as Sycamore, Apple, Hawthorne etc.
- To encourage the planting of native flowering wildflowers, fruit saplings and shrubs species to provide additional bee friendly habitats in urban and deforested rural areas.
- To increase the number of residents directly and actively involved in beekeeping and honey production.
- To establish a consortium of independent small scale producers so as to increase the volume of honey produced across the Kelvin Valley area and lay the foundations for a small to medium sized social enterprise honey and honey by products production.
- To develop honey and related by-products produced in the Kelvin Valley as a brand.
We will achieve these objectives through:
- Producing a range of communication and educational tools which will be used to support a programme of talks to schools and community organisations aimed at raising awareness of the vital role that bees play in natural food production. Secondary schools and community groups will be encouraged to borrow one of the 'loan' hives, protective clothing and equipment and will be provided with a starter colony of 20,000 honey bees to establish their own bee colonies. As skills and confidence grows groups and schools will be supported in raising funds to acquire their own hive(s) and equipment retuning the 'loaned hive' to the bank. Schools will be encouraged to run their honey making as an enterprise to fit with the Enterprising Schools initiative.
- Undertake a programme of awareness raising through local media, direct mailings and other methods appropriate to the target audiences to raise awareness of, and encourage the conservation and creation of, additional bee friendly habitats across the Clyde Valley among home owners, farmers, public bodies and other landowners.
- Encourage the planting of native flowering woodland trees, fruit trees, fruit shrubs and bee friendly habitat flowers to create additional bee friendly habitats through a programme of public awareness raising talks and woodland planting/conservation advice together with provision of free seeds and saplings.
- Establish a bank of hives and associated beekeeping equipment. Hives will be loaned to novice beekeepers after an initial period of training to establish new colonies. As novice beekeepers experience and confidence progresses so they will acquire their own hives and those loaned will be returned to the 'bank' for further loan to additional novice beekeepers and so on thus maintaining the cycle of increased honey production. We aim to increase number of beekeepers by up to 36 pa over the next five years. So that by 2016 there are approaching 200 active beekeepers in the area collectively caring for approximately 12 million honey bees.
- Form a consortium of Clyde Valley Beekeepers. The consortium will operate as a cooperative/social enterprise to process and market the honey produced. During the start up (loan) phase members will donate at least half of home produced honey to the Consortium. As the brand develops members will receive payment for honey but continue to volunteer their time for processing, packaging and marketing.
- Establish a central honey processing centre. Independent bee keepers access the facilities to extract and process the honey. All members will be trained and become adept in all aspects of honey processing and marketing. The bulk of honey is 'donated' to the Kelvin Valley Beekeepers Consortium and marketed as an independent brand. Profits being ploughed back into the consortium to acquire replacement and additional hives, equipment and honey bee colonies and to provide specialised training course on such topics as Queen Rearing.
- Establish and support a number of honey production by-product crafts centres producing such items as beeswax candles, furniture polish and natural cosmetics all sold under the KVH brand.
Funding for the start up phase of KVH has been provided by the Kelvin Valley Leader Programme, the Big Lottery Awards for All Programme, Central Scotland Forest Trust Community programme, The Co-operative Community Fund and KCMG.