On Friday 23rd of June I used my Sopra Steria Volunteering Day to support the Scottish Beekeepers Association (SBA) at the Royal Highland Show. The SBA was setup in 1912 as the national beekeeping body in Scotland. Sopra Steria provides me with one day’s paid volunteering, as part of our Community commitments, so with the SBA being a charity I decided to use my volunteering day to help.
Every year the SBA have a massive “Honey Marquee” at the Royal Highland Show which is a 4 day event – it’s Scotland’s biggest agricultural event with over 1,000 trade exhibitors and 6,500 animals. In the Honey Marquee alone, the SBA plan for around 10,000 visitors per day and require teams of stewards to help. So I put my name down for Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
All of the stewards were avid beekeepers, ranging from people like me, i.e. beginners keeping a couple of hives in the back garden, through to bee farmers with hundreds of hives and decades of experiences.
We rotated our teams around the various sections of the hive covering:
- Candle making – beeswax of course!
- Observation hives – we had 3 glass sided hives with bees foraging outside at the show
Education – a “touchy feely” area where people can handle hive parts, honey comb and a honey extractor.
Here’s a view inside the Honey Marquee:
How did I get into Beekeeping?
One of my good friends from school has kept bees for many years and I’d always had “beekeeping” in my bucket list of things to. So when he said he had a spare colony for me I thought – “how difficult can this be?”. I took my first colony with his telephone support, joined the Edinburgh branch of the SBA and did their beginners evening course. My (then) 8 year old daughter came along to the Saturday practical sessions too, so this has become a bit of a family hobby.
2016 was a bad year weather-wise and we didn’t get any honey, but in May this year we took our first crop of 13 jars:
Bees and our environment
As you will have heard in the news, bees have had a bit of a bad time with a variety of factors leading to colonies failing, this includes Varroa Mites and Foul Brood. We’re all hoping that the Asian Hornet doesn’t take hold in the UK.
Discover more about Sopra Steria’s sustainability commitment and community activities.