Students aim to boost UK bees with imports from Poland

A POLISH couple studying in Yorkshire are hoping to modernise UK beekeeping by developing a smaller and lighter hive and importing bees from their homeland.

Ewa Polewska and her partner Michael Johanowicz, who are studying at Huddersfield University’s Business School, are hoping to help reverse the decline in the UK’s bee population by making it easier to keep bees.

The pair are from Lodz where beekeeping is generally more professional than in the UK.

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They have established a business, Bee4Bees, which is marketing products such as beeswaz candles and maintaining hives in Poland, where Ewa’s father is an experienced beekeeper. In time, they aim to establish hives in the UK too.

According to Mr Johanowicz, there is a much less of a problem in Poland with colony collapse disorder, a phenonomenon in which worker bees suddenly disappear, and there is a greater openness to experimentation.

In England, by contrast, beekeeping tends to be more of a hobby for older people and the relatively cumbersome “national hive”, a design from the 1920s, is still standard.

The students – who take turns to travel to and from their native country to tend to their hives – are also experimenting with natural methods for preventing the varroa destructor mite that been so damaging to bee colonies.

They have also been developing new methods of extracting bee venom – a valuable medicinal product – without having to kill the insect. As part of her degree studies, Ms Polewska is writing a dissertation on the wide range of products that can be produced by apiaries. The pair are undecided about marketing organic honey themselves, but see great potential in products such as royal jelly, which is a natural anti-biotic.

Both the students aim to take Bee4Bees to the next level after they have completed their current courses.