On a sunny Sunday morning in a residential suburb of Glasgow we’re kitting up in bee suits. Haggs Castle, one of many residences North of the border that once played host to Mary, Queen of Scots, is now a private home, to both the family who live there and the bee colony who live at the bottom of the garden.
Plan Bee are a Scottish eco-friendly and sustainable beehive company. Essentially, if you fancy having some bees they’ll provide you with however many hives you want, and they’ll even manage the hives and look after the bees for you. In return, you’ll be secure in the knowledge that you’re making an instant and positive impact on your local environment, and you’ll get twenty-four jars of honey for each hive you adopt every year.
As well as catering to individuals, a lot of Plan Bee’s clients are big companies and organisations, which is where their work starts to get a bit more interesting. Their client list boasts a mixture of big names such as Highland Spring, Balfour Beatty and Harley-Davidson, and a good mixture of Scottish restaurants, spas and small businesses.
Learning about the company, it was a couple of Plan Bee’s smaller clients that stood out to me, highlighting that they are about more than just keeping bees and producing honey products. For example, Clyde Dental Group keep hives not only because they are concerned about their carbon footprint and want to contribute to their local ecosystem, but as a practical tool. When children arrive at the practice for dental surgery they are brought to see the bees; the bees provide both a welcome distraction and help engage them in the project at the same time. The practice also donates the proceeds from the sale of their honey to benefit local charities.
James Chapman, butchers in Wishaw, have installed four hives with the help of Plan Bee, again concerned about their environmental credentials, but also because they are interested in the traceability of their product; they want to be able to sell truly local honey in their shop from hives that are just next door.
Additionally to their corporate and business clients, Plan Bee also have partnerships with several local schools in Scotland, where students are both encouraged to get involved in the design of the hive, and to learn about the bees and what they can do for the environment in the process.
After making sure all of our suits were secure (did you know that it is still possible to get stung through a bee suit? I’m glad I did not know this on the outset, as I may not have been as fearless in handling the bees if I had known I was the one who was going to get stung!) we headed over to the two polystyrene hives the residents of Haggs Castle keep for their private use; the man of the house also has a corporate relationship with the company.