WHEN it comes to preserving Britain’s bee population Bradford is very busy.

The biggest project Bradford Beekeepers Association are set to launch next year is the queen breeding programme.

Bill Cadmore, training officer with BdBKA, explains they are looking at setting up an apiary in Heaton Park in the city after securing funding through the community development group - Inspire - to breed local queens.

He says many beekeepers buy queens from other parts of the country - even the world - but he says they are keen to nurture their own home grown bees.

“Our philosophy is local bees are the best bees for the area as they are raised locally,” explains Bill.

Of course, another significant issue next year is Brexit. The potential impact that could have is already the main topic of conversation - but will it effect bee-keepers and, if so, how?

“Brexit will have an effect on the honey that is available in supermarkets in that imported honey MAY WELL be subject to a different tax regime. Honey from Europe can be freely imported at present but this is going to change“ explains Bill, adding that the price of local Yorkshire honey will be unaffected.

However, he says their greatest concern is any changes in legislation on health and safety such as the use of agro chemicals. We don’t want people using chemicals that might harm our bees.”

In the meantime, though, it’s business as usual for Bradford Beekeepers Association which, since its establishment eight years ago, has been developing apiaries at sites within the city and district.

There are currently five and counting as the group continues to develop hives where bees can thrive.

Interestingly, while many perceive bees to be feasting on the flora and fodder bordering tranquil landscapes in countryside settings, in Bradford you are more likely to find them flourishing close to busy roads and motorway networks.

The main apiary, which is also the headquarters for Bradford Beekeepers Association in Tong Street is close to one of the busiest commuter corridors into the city.

Others are dotted within the grounds of the University of Bradford and local companies such as the Yorkshire Building Society and Marks & Spencer’s Bradford distribution centre. The latest apiary is at Raw Nook Nature Reserve, described as a ‘regenerated site formerly the old Low Moor train station.’

Bill Cadmore explains the site is an extension of their collaboration with Bradford Council who have helped them identify areas where they can set up apiaries.

“This is very good because this nature reserve has lots of different plants and flowers and is cared for by a really nice group of volunteers,” explains Bill.

Bill explains temporary apiaries have also been set up in Ilkley and Haworth as the association’s work continues to expand within the local community. Other initiatives include the ‘Keep Bees Pollinating’ campaign launched in October to encourage communities to plant wildflower seeds obtained through the British Beekeepers Association and donated by Burts Bees as part of its ‘BringBackTheBees’ campaign.

Bradford Keepers Association is also developing its work with schools and organisations. Three years ago the association received a grant of almost £10,000 from The Gannett Foundation, run by the parent company of the Telegraph & Argus.

Since then the association has been spending the money wisely through its “bee education project” encouraging local school children to get involved in bee keeping and to raise awareness of bees and the importance of pollination in our food production. The association also hosts bee-keeping courses and, according to Bill, interest is increasing - particularly among young people.

This year BdBKA hosted visits from local Scouts, Guides and Brownies at its Tong Street training apiary where they have the opportunity to don bee suits and get up close to these fascinating insects.

“It has really blossomed and I think it’s all related to wanting to get closer to nature. Having something that is hands-on and producing a nice product as well. Something you don’t need a lot of space for and not hugely a big time commitment and you can get a huge amount of satisfaction from it,” says Bill.

For those who fancy learning about bee-keeping in the New Year, a course starts at Bradford University in January and will run every other Thursday evening. Visit bradfordbeekeepers.co.uk or email bill.cadmore@icloud.com.