Honey pro­duc­ers work with grouse es­tates

Sporting Shooter - - Keeper News -

Scot­tish honey pro­duc­ers are work­ing in part­ner­ship with grouse es­tates to en­able bees to feed on the pro­lific flow­er­ing plants on moor­land in sev­eral parts of the coun­try.

Es­tates in Tay­side, the An­gus Glens and the Lam­mer­muirs work with bee­keep­ers who po­si­tion their hives on the moors ev­ery Au­gust and Septem­ber. This is an im­por­tant means of sup­port for small lo­cal busi­nesses.

Nigel Robert­son of Struan Api­aries has 500 hives feed­ing on the heather at sev­eral es­tates in To­matin, and the use of the moor­land is cru­cial for his busi­ness.

“Man­aged heather is per­fect for honey bees – young heather is great for the bees to for­age on as the flow­ers are soft and don’t dam­age their wings. A well-man­aged grouse moor is an ideal ter­ri­tory for bees. Heather honey is my best-sell­ing prod­uct. I wouldn’t get the kind of crop that I do if I didn’t have ac­cess to a man­aged grouse moor, be­cause there wouldn’t be the same per­cent­age of young heather as a guar­an­teed source of food. Our busi­ness wouldn’t sur­vive if I did not have ac­cess to these es­tates,” Mr Robert­son said.

Calum Kip­pen, a game­keeper at Clune & Cor­ry­brough Es­tate, a mem­ber of the To­matin Moor­land Group, said: “Our land is man­aged mainly for grouse. Heather needs to be burnt reg­u­larly to kill off the old plants and en­cour­age new growth. Muir­burn pro­vides a favourable habi­tat for grouse and other ground nest­ing birds. The bees also thrive on young heather.

“There are 13 different species of bum­ble bee on Scot­tish moors, sep­a­rate to the honey bees. Seven of these are com­mon types and there are five or six rare species; most of the com­mon species live hap­pily on moor­land in Scot­land. The heather has to be pol­li­nated and man­aged moors are a great place for bees to feed undis­turbed.

“Some of the es­tates in To­matin have hosted hives on their land for the past 25 years and it adds an­other layer of bio­di­ver­sity to the work that we do. We are de­lighted to work in part­ner­ship with lo­cal honey pro­duc­ers and it is ex­cit­ing from our point of view that we can play a small role in cre­at­ing a Scot­tish food prod­uct that is in de­mand around the world.”

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