"In 1980 when I was living in Zambia. I was working with ZCCM, a state-owned mining company in their commercial farming venture. We kept bees in traditional hives and sold the honey produced in the farm shops which were part of the farming estate. It was very popular with our many customers and my interest in the honeybee was born.
Thirty-four years later I paid a visit to the Royal Highland Show honey tent. This rekindled my interest in bees but I knew that I needed to learn more if I was to establish my own apiary. I decided to undertake a beekeeping course at Newbattle Abbey College, not far from the city of Edinburgh. I then joined Newbattle Beekeepers Association and now have six colonies of bees at my Apiary in the West Lothian countryside. I continue my membership of the Association where I meet with both novice and experienced beekeepers and expand my knowledge of the honeybee, a most fascinating creature.
The association maintains an apiary in the grounds of the college which was gifted to the people of Scotland in 1937 by Philip Kerr, 11th Marquis of Lothian to be used as a residential adult education college. The main building dates from the sixteenth century.
I find Newbattle a magical place steeped in history with ancient woodland and parkland. I look forward to every visit. Over the past year the Association has expanded its range of activities and it now has a greater focus on education and training. Unfortunately, there is no adequate accommodation for training sessions, meetings and study groups. The college trustees have come to the rescue and offered a ten-year lease on a WW2 wooden hut adjacent to the main college building which was last used in 1950. As you can imagine, it is in a state of disrepair and needs extensive renovations and refurbishment. The association plans to refurbish the building and establish the Newbattle Bee Academy.
I have also become aware of the decline in the honeybee population. A recent review by the University of Reading and Friends of the Earth shows that: - Honeybee colonies fell by 53% between 1985 and 2005 - Wild honeybees are thought to be nearly extinct - Bee diversity has declined in 52% of British landscapes For these reasons, I am convinced that our bees do need us. I am confident that we will make a meaningful contribution in helping to reverse the decline in the bee population by training the next generations of beekeepers. I am passionate that the Bee Academy becomes a reality.
This is why I readily became involved in the Chuffed campaign and also decided to launch my own fundraiser campaign in support of the main campaign!"
For more, check out Malcolm and the Newbattle Beekeepers Association's campaign page: