Sugar rush to save the threatened honey bee

PHOTO: NEIL CROSS'Beekeeper Margaret Wilson, right, with Sharon Norris of Sainbury's who have donated hundreds of kilos of spoiled white sugar to feed endangered bees
PHOTO: NEIL CROSS'Beekeeper Margaret Wilson, right, with Sharon Norris of Sainbury's who have donated hundreds of kilos of spoiled white sugar to feed endangered bees

Supermarket workers in Bamber Bridge have donated tons of spoiled sugar in a bid to save the region’s threatened honey bees.

Rather than throw away bags of sugar that have been ripped or damaged, workers at the Sainsbury’s store off Cuerden Way are donating them to the local Beekeeping Association to sustain hungry colonies of the endangered insect.

Millions of local honey bees, which have been declining for years, are facing starvation following weeks of poor weather.

Now, local beekeepers and staff at Sainsbury’s are calling to others to do their bit to save the humble bee.

The idea was the brainchild of pensioner Margaret Wilson, 73, who took up beekeeping three years ago and now has around 500,000 bees at her home in Higher Walton.

She said: “Bees are tremendously important and they are dying for a number of reasons, including disease, pesticides and the climate.

“But recently they are suffering particularly badly because of the bad weather and they are starving.

“To feed them beekeepers need to feed them a sugar solution but it is very expensive, so I wrote to Sainsbury’s to see if they could donate their spoiled sugar and the response was fantastic.

“This sugar goes a long way to helping this endangered species.”

Bees survival relies on them being able to forage for nectar and pollen - but wet and cold weather has made it a poor summer for flowers and drastically reduced the natural food supply.

As a result the bees are returning cold and hungry to their hives and heavy rain is also limiting opportunities to search for food.

Honey stores laid up in hives early in the summer are, in many cases, almost exhausted, leaving bees relying on sugary feeds provided by beekeepers.

Margaret explained: “The problem we have is that we had a really good spring, which encouraged the bees to breed but in the summer it has gone really cold and they have no food to feed the brood.”

Bakery worker Lisa Rawcliffe is one of the Sainsbury’s workers that collects the spoiled sugar that is donated to the 180 members of the Beekeepers Association of Ormskirk and Croston.

She said: “We were delighted to help. The sugar would only be thrown away because once a bag is ripped or damaged it is not fit for human consumption. It is great that it is going to a good cause.”

The store says it donates around two 10kg buckets each week.