A SOUTH LANARKSHIRE beekeeping group has upped its honey production by 20% after generous funding from a nearby onshore wind project.

Avondale Community Beekeepers has been awarded a £3000 grant from Banks Renewables’ Kype Muir Wind Farm Community Fund, which has enabled the group to purchase two new honey extractors.

Having previously used a time-consuming and labour-intensive manual extraction process, the two new machines have cut the group’s production time down by half, resulting in even more harvested honey. The extractors are also more sustainable, with the Avondale Beekeepers able to clean honey off the frames more effectively and as a result, reuse them.

The group, which has been running since 2015, plays host to around 44 hives, which are located in the gardens of its 14 members’ homes around South Lanarkshire. Each hive can house between 20,000 and 60,000 bees at any one time.

Stewart Wilson, member of the Avondale Beekeepers committee said: “The new honey extractors have changed the game for us – not only can we now harvest more honey, it has saved us bags of time in the process.

“The support from Banks Renewables really has been critical in allowing us to manufacture honey in a more effective way. For example, we can now reuse our frames season after season, making us far more eco-friendly across the board.”

“With this new technology, we are able to continue to thrive as a group whilst also increasing the biodiversity of the area and continuing to support the declining species. We are very grateful to Banks for supporting us with that.”

By housing bees across its South Lanarkshire hives, the group is hoping to combat the decline of the honeybee – a species responsible for over 50% of the annual pollination of all crops, produce, fruits, flowers, shrubs and trees in Scotland.

Avondale Community Beekeepers has members – and hives – in Chapelton, Glassford, Sandford and Stonehouse, to name a few – with the £3,000 being split equally across the various locations.

Robert Craig, KMCP member who also plays a key role in the Avondale Community Beekeepers said: “It is excellent to see the sheer benefits that the KMCP fund can bring. Helping projects like this thrive in the local community is increasingly important in the current economic climate.”

The Kype Muir Wind Farm Community Fund – which provides financial assistance to community groups, voluntary organisations and communities – is part of Hamilton-based Banks Renewables’ Connect2Renewables initiative, in which the family firm commits to maximising the economic, social and environmental benefits of all its wind farms in South Lanarkshire.

Robin Winstanley, sustainability and external affairs manager at Banks Renewables, said: “By looking after bees and helping the species to thrive in the local area, the Avondale Community Beekeepers is making a great contribution to the environment with this impressive project.

“The group’s values in sustainability, community and biodiversity match very closely with ours here at Banks, so it made total sense to award them funding generated from our Kype Muir Wind Farm. We’re delighted to be able to support another excellent local project.”

Kype Muir and Kype Muir Extension are set to deliver community benefits equating to more than £770,000 each year made available to community groups, voluntary organisations and environmental projects in communities close to their developments.