Heritage Lottery Grant funds Cornish Black Bees

Picture1One of the Black Bees at Paradise Park

The B4 project has received a Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) Sharing Heritage1 grant, it was announced today. Their exciting project, Strengthening the Heritage of the Cornish Black Bee’, has been given £9,600 to increase knowledge and understanding of the benefits of the Cornish strain of the native   sup-species of honey bee and to encourage bee keepers to use the Cornish strain, thus strengthening the local stock.

B4 (Bringing Back Black Bees) is a Cornwall-based conservation organisation working to promote the qualities of the native black honey bee Apis mellifera mellifera (Amm) to beekeepers across the South West peninsula – and the wider world.

Dr Andrew Brown of the B4 Project said: “Black honey bees are the original bees of the British Isles, but their gene pool has been diluted over the past century by breeding with non-native sub-species.  They are worth saving because they are uniquely adapted to living in the fluctuating climatic conditions of the UK.  They are thrifty, long-lived and able to fly at lower temperatures, in light rain and drizzle and in higher winds than introduced sub-species.”

The project will work with local bee keepers to collect data about their bees. This data will add to the picture of how the local species became less popular for new bee keepers than imported species and provide insights to help promote the reintroduction of the local species.

Exhibits and displays will be created at locations such as Paignton Zoo, The Eden Project, Lost Gardens of Heligan and Paradise Park to reach people who are currently not engaged in bee-keeping. Each site will feature an observation hive (allowing close, safe access to the bees), viewing points and information material to explain the importance of the Cornish Black Bee and its local significance. “Invertebrate trails” will encourage young people and families to find out more about the Cornish black bee through educational activities and games, and a “bee experience” will allow members of the public to assist

experienced bee-keepers in opening up the hives, examining the bees and handling the frames.

Nerys Watts, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund in the South West said: “The Sharing Heritage programme is a wonderful opportunity for communities to delve into their local heritage and we are delighted to be able to offer this grant so that the B4 Project can help people embark on a real journey of discovery about natural heritage. Heritage means such different things to different people, and HLF’s funding offers a wealth of opportunities for groups to explore and celebrate what’s important to them in their area.”



Notes to editors

About the B4 Project

Masterminded by Tavistock dentist Andrew Brown, building on 30 years of work done by Jo Widdicombe, James Kilty and Roger Dewhurst, the B4 Community Interest Company brings together bee keepers across Devon and Cornwall.  Other directors of the B4 project are David Ledger, Nick Bentham-Green, Gerry Stuart, Jon Hyde and Kevin Brown.

B4 is currently receiving support from the geneticists at FERA (the Food and Environment Research Agency) regarding the understanding of the genetic heritage of ‘Cornish black bees’ This work, which is funded by the B4 project, will highlight the extent to which the Cornish bee population has hybridised with non-native honey bee sub-species and will provide guidance for future conservation efforts. .

B4 has also worked closely with Mike Bungard, Curator of Lower Vertebrates and Invertebrates at Paignton Zoo Environmental Park, to install two colonies in the zoo’s grounds, where visitors can read about the bees and what is being done to help them. With the support of Tim Smit, B4 is developing a good working relationship with The Lost Gardens of Heligan and the Eden Project, and is hoping to contribute to a major new exhibition of bees and pollinators at the heart of Eden’s global garden.

B4’s network also includes regional bee improvement groups (the Bee Improvement Programme for Cornwall and the Cornwall Bee Improvement and Bee Breeders Group), Paradise Park wildlife sanctuary at Hayle and Duchy Nurseries at Lostwithiel. B4 is also working with Ross Dyter Bee Hive Supplies who designs and manufactures  polystyrene hives in Cornwall.


Sharing Heritage

1Sharing Heritage is for any not-for-profit group wanting to explore their community’s heritage. With a commitment from HLF of £3m each year, Sharing Heritage grants between £3,000 and £10,000 are available to groups who want to discover their local heritage. Projects can cover a wide spectrum of subject matter from exploring local archaeology and a community’s cultures and traditions to identifying and recording local wildlife and protecting the surrounding environment to managing and training volunteers, and holding festivals and events to commemorate the past.


Heritage Lottery Fund

Using money raised through the National Lottery, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) aims to make a lasting difference for heritage, people and communities across the UK and help build a resilient heritage economy. From museums, parks and historic places to archaeology, natural environment and cultural traditions, we invest in every part of our diverse heritage. HLF has supported almost 36,000 projects with £5.9bn across the UK. www.hlf.org.uk.


For further information, images and interviews, please contact Andrew Brown at Newton Farm PL17 8DQ B4Project on 01822 617788 andrew@aglbrown.co.uk