27 September 2018 | Article

Expanded polystyrene (EPS) bee hives are chosen not only by commercial beekeepers but also for amateurs as they require virtually no maintenance compared with traditional materials.

The material’s exceptional insulation qualities keeps these temperature sensitive bees warm in winter when extreme weather can devastate a bee colony and cool in summer when overheating can be an issue. And unlike wooden hives, the new beehives will never rot.

The EPS bee hives have been designed to incorporate all of the comfort features bees seek such as a landing strip and a feeding door and for the beekeeper, easy honey removal.  One of Britain’s biggest commercial beekeepers, Paynes Southdown Beefarm in Sussex who has been producing honey since 1922 claims the EPS hives have increased their honey yield by 30%.

Temperature is critical to bees, therefore, the huge advantage of the insulation provided by EPS hives means they have more time and energy to make more honey of a better quality. Bees shake vigorously in the hive to regulate their temperature and when it gets too hot they bring in water and rapidly flap their wings to spread the cooling moisture, the insulation prevents the need for this, giving bees more energy.  Expanded foam hives have strong environmental credentials too because they can be recycled at the end of their life.

The British Beekeepers Association claims to have over 20,000 amateur beekeeper members in the UK.  The actual market size is difficult to establish as there is no requirement to ‘register’ as a beekeeper.

Problems for Honey Bees (As recorded by UK government)

  1. habitat loss  
  2. use of pesticides
  3. pests and diseases  
  4. extreme weather and climate change, and
  5. competition from invasive species

If these pollinating insects went into decline – amongst other serious factors – the health of the £100bn food industry at the heart of the UK economy would be damaged. Without the service nature provides, some of that food would become a lot harder to grow and more expensive to buy.

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