Salford beekeeping centre marking first anniversary with public open day as it gets shortlisted for award

The project has been created on council-owned land which has been leased to arts and culture hub Islington Mill.
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A beekeeping project in Salford is celebrating its first anniversary by welcoming the public in for an open day - and is also in the running for an award.

Bee Corner was created by Amber McCormack and is tucked away on a piece of council-owned land behind arts and culture venue Islington Mill.

In the first year of running the project Amber and her team have transformed a piece of neglected land into a tranquil green oasis within the city.

And their hard work has not gone unnoticed, with the Bee Corner being nominated for a local accolade.

When is the open day at Bee Corner and what is happening?

The first anniversary open day at Bee Corner, which is being called Api Bee Day, is a free drop-in event taking place on Sunday 14 August between 2pm and 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, with the bee project coming under the Islington Mill Foundation Charity.

Bee Corner runs monthly open days and has a range of activities including ‘bees for wellbeing’, a social prescription coursewhere people can be referred by health care professionals for beekeeping experiences to help their health and mental wellbeing.

The team of apiarists at Bee CornerThe team of apiarists at Bee Corner
The team of apiarists at Bee Corner

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

Amber said: We have been trying to bring a little green haven to honey bees, insects and all sorts of wildlife. Bees are crucial to our life on Earth ~ they pollinate about 70% of all the food we eat so it is important that we look after these bees that are facing all sorts of threats in the environment, pollution, parasites and diseases.

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

How was Bee Corner set up?

Apiarist Amber, who lives in Ordsall, said she has been interested in bees for years and has been keeping them on her allotment for the past seven years.

She first got involved through a community project facilitated by Salford University called Ideas 4 Ordsall and started volunteering at Weaste Allotments’ Honey Plot apiary.

Having received her first swarm there from her bee mentor Liz Sperling, Amber then decided to concentrate more on her beekeeping during the Covid-19 pandemic, which she said was a difficult period for her and caused her to revaluate what she wanted to do.

She also wanted to share her fascination with the insects with the public, but knew she would be unable to do that keeping hives on an allotment.

She contacted local councillor Ray Mashiter and he put her in touch with Islington Mill, which had been considering doing something with the neglected scrap of land behind it and turning it into a garden.

The Bee Corner project was quickly born, and Amber said it allows her to share her enthusiasm for the vital pollinating creatures with other people while also bringing down some of the barriers which newcomers to the hobby can face.

She said: “Bees are endlessly fascinating, wondrous creatures and they completely captured my imagination. I believe that we all have much to gain from learning about bees, and we all should be able to access beekeeping experiences regardless of our socioeconomic background.

A neglected scrap of land has been transformed into a gardenA neglected scrap of land has been transformed into a garden
A neglected scrap of land has been transformed into a garden

“I had often been approached by local people on my estate who showed an interest in beekeeping. There are courses available, but beekeeping can be elitist, inaccessible, and expensive.

“Many of us do not have the resources to access beekeeping, such as green space, transport, funds, or education, and I really want to redress this imbalance.”

The site, which was formerly a concrete dumping ground, has now become a beautiful green retreat and beekeeping centre which has a honey house for the extraction and bottling of honey.

Work is currently taking place to turn a container unit that had been abandoned on the site into a classroom and somewhere to store the protective equipment such as bee suits which are required to protect people looking after bees from getting stung.

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 is the award the project has been nominated for?

All the work put in by Amber, her team and Bee Corner’s volunteers has been recognised by social housing provider Salix Homes, which has nominated the project for its Springboard Hero award for 2022.

Grassroots causes and projects in Salford are put forward for the prize each year to recognise their benefits to the local community.

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

Salix has supported the project in its first year and provided the initial funding donation to get the beekeeping scheme rolling.

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