Beekeeping

Salford Bee Center is hosting an open day

The project has been created on council-owned land which has been leased to the Islington Mill arts and culture centre.

A beekeeping project in Salford is celebrating its first anniversary by welcoming the public to an open day – and is also up for an award.

Bee Corner was created by Amber McCormack and is nestled on council-owned land behind the Islington Mill Arts and Culture Hall.

In the project’s first year of operation, Amber and her team transformed neglected land into a quiet green oasis within the city.

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And their hard work didn’t go unnoticed, with the Bee Corner being nominated for a local honour.

When is open day at Bee Corner and what happens?

The first anniversary open house at Bee Corner, called Api Bee Day, is a free event taking place on Sunday August 14 between 2-5pm.

The site is located behind Unit 5 on the Regent Trading Estate in Salford. It is owned by the local authority but has been leased to Islington Mill, the beekeeping project under the Islington Mill Foundation Charity.

Bee Corner holds monthly open days and offers a range of activities including ‘Bees for Wellbeing’, a social prescribing course where people can be referred by health professionals for beekeeping experiences to improve their health and mental well-being.

The Bee Corner team of beekeepers

Amber and her team are also organizing activities, which so far this year have included making seed bombs, badges, key chains, magnets, small vials of sugar syrup to help bees called Bee Boosts, honey lemonade, bath salts and lavender wands.

Amber said: We have tried to provide a little green haven for bees, insects and all kinds of wildlife. Bees are essential to our life on Earth ~ they pollinate about 70% of all the food we eat, so it is important that we take care of these bees who face all kinds of threats in the environment, pollution, pests and diseases.

“At Bee Corner, we educate people about the needs of bees and all kinds of other pollinators so we can all be more aware of the world and how to help nature.”

How was Bee Corner created?

Beekeeper Amber, who lives in Ordsall, said she had been interested in bees for years and had kept them on her lot for seven years.

She first became involved in a community project facilitated by the University of Salford called Ideas 4 Ordsall and began volunteering at the Honey Plot apiary at Weste Allotments.

After receiving her first swarm there from her bee mentor Liz Sperling, Amber then decided to focus more on her beekeeping during the Covid-19 pandemic, which she says has been a difficult time for her and has brought her to reassess what she wanted to do.

She also wanted to share her fascination with insects with the public, but knew she would be unable to do so by keeping beehives on a housing estate.

She contacted local councilor Ray Mashiter and he put her in touch with Islington Mill, who were considering doing something with the neglected piece of land behind and turning it into a garden.

The Bee Corner project was born quickly, and Amber said it allowed her to share her enthusiasm for vital pollinating creatures with others while breaking down some of the barriers that newcomers to the hobby may face.

She said: “Bees are endlessly fascinating and wonderful creatures and they have completely captured my imagination. I believe we all have a lot to gain from learning about bees, and we should all be able to access beekeeping experiences, regardless of our socio-economic background.

A piece of abandoned land has been transformed into a garden

“I had often been approached by people in my area who were interested in beekeeping. There are courses available, but beekeeping can be elitist, inaccessible and expensive.

“Many of us don’t have the resources to access beekeeping, such as green space, transportation, funds, or education, and I really want to correct that imbalance.”

The site, which was once a concrete landfill, has now become a beautiful green retreat and a beekeeping center which has a honey house for the extraction and bottling of honey.

Work is currently underway to convert an abandoned container unit at the site into a classroom and a place to store protective equipment such as bee suits needed to protect bee caretakers from stings .

The project also includes growing vegetables in a greenhouse and has received support and donations from individuals, St George’s Day Centre, Manchester International Festival and Palram.

What award was the project nominated for?

All of the work put in by Amber, her team and the volunteers at Bee Corner has been recognized by social housing provider Salix Homes, who nominated the project for their Springboard Hero Award for 2022.

Popular causes and projects in Salford are nominated for the award each year to recognize their benefit to the local community.

A project video to mark the nomination can be viewed here.

Salix supported the project in its first year and provided the seed funding donation to start the beekeeping program.