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Hive of activity has bee project buzzing; South Liverpool.

A beekeeping course, which aims to prevent social isolation among people in the South Liverpool community, is enjoying the taste of sweet success after harvesting their first batch of honey.

There are 76 eager 'learner' beekeepers who have been looking after a colony of more than one million bees since April 2017 and recently produced their first batch of 180 jars of 'Let it Bee' honey.

South Liverpool Homes (SLH) helped set up the flagship beekeeping project in partnership with Liverpool John Lennon Airport, who transformed surrounding derelict land into an apiary, and Blackburne House, who deliver the eight, six-week programmes from April 2017 to September 2018.

Joe Cummings, Enterprise Manager at SLH, said: "We set up this project in summer 2016 to reach out to local residents who we believe are the furthest away from the job market.

"Tackling worklessness in the South Liverpool area is a key priority for us and innovative courses like this aim to provide re-socialisation, a network of friends and additional qualifications which will help bring local residents closer to the labour market and away from welfare dependency.

"This is a fantastic example of partnership working at its best and we're delighted that local residents have taken up this opportunity."

Learner bee-keeper Elliott Creed is delighted he started the course in February this year.

He said: "The course is very hands-on and you really do learn about the whole process from start to finish.

"I've learnt everything from inspecting the bees for diseases and protecting hives, to how to extract honey and capture a swarm."

Andrea Rushton, from Blackburne House, said: "Honey bees have experienced a worrying decline over recent years but courses like this will help to revive the bee colony which pollinate about a third of our food supply.

"The airport is a perfect location for delivering this project because they are near brambles and wildflowers such as lupins and sweet peas, all of which are critical food supply for healthy bees.

"Due to the success of the programme we will continue to sustain the land donated by the Airport as a training site for urban beekeepers to enable them to continue to produce locally sourced honey.

"And if the weather is on our side, we estimate to triple this year's yield."

The majority of honey is to be sold to local residents at a Christmas Fayre in December organised by South Liverpool Homes and Blackburne House will be selling the sweet stuff at their Liverpool City Centre base, with all proceeds going towards supporting hives for similar beekeeping projects.

Andrew Dutton, Head of Environment at Liverpool John Lennon Airport, commented: "This is a great scheme from an environmental perspective and the Airport has been only too happy to provide a home for 15 bee hives on land that we own.

"We are committed to investing in our local community through our Community Plan and this project is just one of the ways we will do this."

| If you have an interest in bees, call 0151 709 4356 to sign up to the next course.

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The first jars of honey harvested from the South Liverpool Homes community beekeeping project

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Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Dec 12, 2017
Words:529
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