By Karen Carruth

We’ve all heard about the crisis in the world of bees, with pesticides and disease being just two challenges that they face. What if you fancied getting a few hives and helping the population out, how do you start?

In Scotland there are around 2000 beekeepers, most of whom are hobbyists, with one to a dozen hives. There are also around 30 bee farmers, who are operating on a commercial basis. And today I am dressed up in my finest white boiler suit as I visit Webster Honey, who are in the process of launching a special beekeeping educational centre at Scotlandwell, in Kinross.

The suit is essential as I’m in among around 30 hives belonging to Daniel Webster and his partner Emily Kate McDonnell. Showing me around is Meik Molitor, their resident beekeeper. He’s funny, relaxed and happy to show me around the site where some of their hives are situated on a hill looking toward Loch Leven.

The centre, housed in a custom-built log cabin is a first for the area. The idea is to education people hoping to keep their own bees, with a series of one-day courses, giving them an introduction to beekeeping and whether the idea of keeping bees matches the reality.

The centre will also be used by businesses sponsoring Webster Honey Hives, which, under their sponsorship deals, will be able to send representatives from their businesses to complete day courses as a staff incentive, or reward.

Webster Honey also hopes to introduce residential beekeeping courses in the future.

“We’re thrilled to have this beekeeping centre up and running,” said Daniel who launched Webster Honey in 2015, with Emily Kate.

“We want to be Scotland’s biggest bee employer, and the launch of this centre, staffed by Meik, our amazing beekeeper, is a major step towards this goal for us,” said Daniel. “Due to climate change concerns, and greater awareness all round of environmental issues, there is huge interest in beekeeping, with a desire to preserve their crucial role in food production. More and more people want to keep bees, whether for recreational or small business purposes. It can be a hugely rewarding pastime, and there is a real demand for locally produced, artisan honey.”

The company have been running a Primary School programme to schools all over Edinburgh, Fife and the Lothians. Meik has been visiting schools and telling the children about the importance of honeybees to the eco system. The schools can be supplied with beehives to tend and look after with Meik coming in over a 10-week timescale to check on the hives and complete the learning programme. A one-day course is also available, with an observational hive being brought along to start the process. Often the one-day course leads to the school signing up for the 10-week lesson plan.

With hives all over Scotland, Webster Honey sells its products, which also include candles, alongside many types of set, runny and flavoured honey, in farm shops and delis all over Scotland.

“Webster Honey is obviously a seasonal product, and only available at certain times of the year, but it always sells out very quickly,” said Daniel, “I’m trying to build up the number of hives we have so that we can offer a more continuous supply to our retailers.”

Meik tells us about the hierarchy within the hive, who is doing what, where the queen is, and the lifespan of the bees.

Worker bees live for up to 60 days, the Queen for five years and the drones, the ‘lazy boys’ as Meik calls them, last for 60 to 80 days, in case you are interested.

I’m finding it all very interesting, even though I keep hitting my facemask thing when trying to get my hair out my face.

It’s an interesting day out, Meik explains that they have around 60-80k European honey bees in their hives during the summer, and how the bees will forage for pollen within a seven-mile radius.

He shows us how to ‘smoke’ the bees, to give them the impression there is fire nearby, which means they retreat into the hive, also that they don’t emit the pheromone to attack whoever is interfering with their hive, in this case, us.

He also shows us how the honey is stored, how it is harvested and how much you can take without interfering with the bee’s food supply.

Meik has been keeping bees for five years, and he still says he is learning all the time, and he still reads about bees constantly. It’s been a good day, and thankfully none of the little buzzers have managed to breach the white super suit and land a sting. That’s a result.

If you are interested in going along to find out more about beekeeping, go to or you can email or contact 01577 330 452.

Courses will begin in September, with plans for residential courses in the near future.