Newbattle Beekeepers Association
The Bee Academy
Where Better Beekeeping Begins
The 'bee minders' of Newbattle Beekeepers Association (NBA) at Newbattle Abbey are a dedicated bunch keen to expand their knowledge in the art and craft of beekeeping. They want to help sustain and grow the bee population and to pass on their aquired skills, knowledge and experience to novice and young beekeepers and also to the wider community in the surrounding area.
Junior trainee beekeepers inspecting a hive
Newbattle Beekeepers Association delivers bee education that can lead to Scottish Beekeeper Association (SBA) certification. Since 2010 fifty-five senior and six junior trainee beekeepers have successfully completed the Basic Beekeeper certificate with distinction, increasing the ranks of Scotland's bee champions. We have started to expand this activity to include SBA modular courses and to provide facilities to deliver a microscopy course. Our apiarists will be able to study the health of the honeybee as well as the pollen they harvest during their foraging flights. The academy will also house our growing library of books, magazines and other publications. The Bee Academy will host visiting guest speakers and provide space to neighbouring beekeeping associations.
Preparing for honey extraction
To this end we decided to set up Newbattle Bee Academy in the grounds of Newbattle Abbey College which was set up in 1937 by Philip Kerr, 11th Marquis of Lothian when he gifted Newbattle and its estate to the people of Scotland to be used as a residential adult education college. The main building dates from the 16th century and was built on the foundations of a 12th century Cistercian monastery where monks kept honeybees, mined for coal and harvested salt from the salt pans they built on the coast a short distance from Newbattle.
Newbattle Abbey College
The focus of the college is on lifelong learning, raising aspirations and supporting learners in transition. Newbattle college responds to the needs of individuals and communities and part of this is the support to Newbattle Beekeepers in providing land for the teaching apiary and a small storage building in which to keep tools and equipment.
The teaching apiary in the grounds of Newbattle College
The existing facilities although adequate for the teaching apiary and storage requirements were not at all suitable for the expanded activities of Newbattle Bee Academy. The college trustees were willing to allow the use of a wooden hut adjacent to the main college building which was built in the run up to the second world war for the Auxiliary Territorial Service and the Royal Army Medical Corps and used as their administration centre and training facility. It was last used by the armed forces in 1950, almost 70 years ago. Since then it had fallen into disrepair.
The timber huts when in use by the army
(photograph courtesy of Imperial War Museum)
The WW2 Hut - (The Proposed Bee Academy) - as it was before refurbishment work started
As you can see the building was in a dilapidated state. We commissioned a survey to identify the work needed and the anticipated costs associated with the refurbishment.
This Hut (adjacent to the Bee Academy) was refurbished by the college and is used by the residential students as their 'hang-out'
That we should initially focus on bringing the building up to a habitable standard to provide the following facilities
We drew up a plan - to bring the building up to the standard of the student 'hang-out' (see picture above)
Work was needed to both the exterior and interior of the building to achieve the facilities we identified (listed above). Newbattle Abbey College offered a 10 year lease at a peppercorn rent - £1 per annum, in return for us refurbishing the building which was costed at around £25,000. We believed this to be a mutually beneficial arrangement and we were keen to get started with the work needed on the hut. We identified the tradesmen needed to do the work, all we needed were the funds to undertake the refurbishment.
A steering group of eight members was brought together to plan the task and raise the funds needed to refurbish the dilapidated building. An online crowd funding campaign was launched in July of 2017 using the Chuffed.com platform. The campaign went under the name of Our Bees Need You
It was a great success and in excess of £30,600 was raised by mid May 2018. Donors were offered 'Perks' as a way of saying thank you for their donations and we are pleased to record their generosity and to say a very big thank you to one and all.
Check out our supporters below