KILMAC managing director Athole McDonald and his mum Barbara certainly got a buzz out of a “Bee Experience Day” in Perthshire.
He was so impressed with the work third generation beekeeper John Graham is doing to spread the beekeeping gospel that Athole offered to improve access to the hives at Graham’s Perthshire Honey.
Stanley-based John (62) is treasurer of the Perth and District Beekeeping Association, which is keen to promote the craft and its educational spin-off benefits.
Athole secured the four-hour “Bee Experience Day” in a charity auction run by The Rotary Club of Perth in tandem with the Perthshire Advertiser.
He took along mum Barbara, who is a trustee of Beautiful Perth.
The upshot was an offer to improve access to John’s West Park hives to provide easier all-round access by installing a gate, new fencing and a pathway.
“I am keen to educate youngsters in particular about the vital role played by bees in the environment and the ecosystem,” explained John.
“We welcomed Athole and Barbara and afterwards he indicated that Kilmac would like to support our work by making the hives I keep in a field by the house more accessible.
“It was an ‘unbee-lievable’ gesture by Athole and the Kilmac lads, who have put in a ton of work.
“Getting into the field was a bit of an obstacle course before and now it’s easily accessible for anyone, including the disabled, keen to see the bees at close quarters.”
John admits beekeeping is in his DNA.
“I used to help my dad out when I was a teenager and about 10 years ago I returned to it when he gave me a hive,” he said.
“Numbers vary but I’ve usually got around 20 hives to look after. Farmers and the like have been very kind when I have been looking for a corner of a field.
“I have a few sites dotted around Stanley and Dunkeld.”
John has been delighted with early interest in the “Bee Experience Day.”
“We spend a couple of hours going over aspects such as health and safety, pollination and the important role bees play in the ecosystem. Then we have a soup and sandwich lunch before I give them a proper hands-on experience at the hives,” John explained.
“They don a protective suit to handle the frames and get a close-up view of the bees. It’s all perfectly safe.
“Just one of the hives has around 50,000 bees so it is quite a sight.
“That’s the highlight for everyone but they also seem to enjoy tasting several different types of honey before selecting their favourite for pancakes that my wife Deirdre makes!”
Kilmac quality manager Jimmy Riddoch and Perth labourers John Livingstone and Ryan Duncan certainly got a “buzz” out of their latest project.
“We cleared out some old shrubs, put up a new 25-metre fence and gate, and created a mulch path to give John and visitors easier access to his hives,” said Jimmy.
“It is the first time in all my years on the job that health and safety has involved an assessment of bees!
“I had to confess to John I prefer maple syrup to honey – maybe because I was badly stung by wasps when I was a kid. John branded me a traitor!
“I was initially a bit wary, but the bees weren’t interested in us.”
*For further information John’s “Bee Experience Day” contact firstname.lastname@example.org