3 May 2020

A Q&A with Bee Collective

Q: Caroline, you’re the Founder and CEO of Bee Collective which is a not-for-profit social/environmental enterprise. What is the main purpose of the Bee Collective?

A: At Bee Collective our main goal is to support sustainable beekeeping, for all the benefits that bring to people and wildlife. We do this currently by doing 3 things:

We provide services to beekeepers. Our main service is honey extraction: beekeepers bring their honey straight from the hive to our honey house in central London where we uncap, spin, jar and label it for them. The beekeepers pay us in honey or money, or a combination of both, to help cover our costs. We can also help build replacement parts for beehives, and we are working to help beekeepers access routes to market for honey in London

We provide volunteering opportunities so that anyone can get involved. Our volunteer sessions run every Tuesday evening during the honey season and are free and open to everyone.

Finally, we help to develop partnerships and projects to improve London’s landscape for honeybees and wild pollinators. We worked with a number of key organisations to establish the ‘Making a B-Line for London’ partnership which has developed a strategy for connecting pollinator habitat across the capital.

Q: How vital is the support of bees and beekeepers to our planet and can you explain why this is important?

A: Bees and other pollinating insects are vitally important to the health of planet – they help to maintain the diversity and resilience of our habitats and ecosystems which is especially important in the face of climate change. They also ensure stable production of many of our food crops. Honeybees are extremely effective pollinators, but they only exist now in the UK because of beekeeping as wild population have been wiped out by pests and diseases. But it’s not as simple as creating more beehives – bees need pollen and nectar, and they need them at the right times of year so we need to make sure there are enough of the right species of flowering plants and trees to feed them. It is even more important to look after the multitude of wild bee species, butterflies and moths that are struggling since we have lost nearly all of the grassland habitats that provide their food, shelter and nesting sites.

Q: What were your first impressions of Petalon when Florence first got in touch in 2015?

A: I was so excited when Petalon got in touch. They were sponsoring the Mayor’s Capital Bee Project which was coordinated by Sustain and Bee Collective had been helping sustain to research and write a report on London’s pollinators. When the Capital Bee project ended Sustain suggested to Florence that she get in touch with us. I was so thrilled when Florence got in touch and really excited to hear about Petalon’s unique business model. It felt so interesting and innovative, and there seemed to be a real synergy with Bee Collective. Petalon was still quite new then and Florence was so busy so we exchanged a lot of excited emails before she had the time to come and visit our honey house. I remember she came with James and we all had a great chat over a cuppa about the importance of flowers and bees and about all the things you can make from beeswax! I’m sure we tasted some honey too!

Q: As a not-for-profit enterprise, how important are the donations and exposure you receive from companies such as Petalon?

A: As a not-for-profit, run by volunteers, we are completely dependent on our income from honey sales and from the donations we receive from companies such as Petalon, in order to keep going each year and cover the costs of running our services, opportunities and projects. With Petalon we get the added bonus of exposure through their website, which is invaluable.

Thank you, Caroline. We look forward to continuing to work with you and support Bee Collective and the vital work you’re doing!

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