A pest control specialist is creating a buzz by collecting swarms of bees he’s asked to destroy – and moving them to a sanctuary he’s developing in Cambridge.Peter Wordingham of Pest Patrol Ltd – aware that he was working in a sector carrying a negative stigma – wanted to do something positive for the environment. His bee2bee business plan was crystallised after interviewing a potential employee who kept bees. Now every time the firm is called out to zap a hive its operatives take the swarm back to a covert colony in the Cambridge UK countryside.
The company has absorbed a financial ‘sting’ of £110k to buy a suitable site – eight acres, no less – and plant semi-mature trees to create a pollination paradise. Peter wants to turn it into a fully-fledged bee sanctuary open to the public.His ‘taste of honey’ plan includes a provision for training new generations of beekeepers to develop the sanctuary into a European-leading exemplar.
The venture is already a positive industry of hives, home to around 150 swarms. Local law firm Barr Ellison Solicitors has acted for Pest Patrol in its own corporate growth and also in the novel eco-venture.
Peter Wordingham said: “We’ve built a successful little company working nationwide from Cornwall to Aberdeen. The business has been going for 12 years and we started from nothing and are now turning over £1.1m. I wanted to put something back into the environment. Pest control is an essentially negative experience – it’s positive for the people getting rid of pests but not always for the environment. We are driving round the country in diesel vans, using chemicals and in many ways our trade has a negative environmental impact.
“I had thought about it for years - finding some way to make a positive contribution. We get a lot of approaches from householders having problems with bees; they don’t care what happens to the creatures as long as someone gets rid of them.
“We knew that if we refused the work they would go to someone, say a little less ethical than us, and get the job done. But every swarm you kill has a knock on effect for future years. We interviewed a potential employee who was into beekeeping and I decided that would be our environmental project.
“We are really pleased with the progress we have made so far but appreciate that our efforts to date are not going to make a huge difference to the bee population of Britain in the short term. But in the fullness of time we think we can have an important impact – and help arrest an alarming decline.
“Safeguarding and helping to propagating each and every swarm will help generate others. And by developing the bee sanctuary we are also encouraging other forms of wildlife.”
Peter was alarmed at the fact that around 93-94 per cent of honey in Britain is imported. Almost a fifth is from China. “When you think of what it takes to make it this is crazy. Surely bee farming is a sustainable solution.”
In Britain, bumble bees have been vanishing since the 1950s. Worldwide declines in bee colonies are threatening agricultural production because both honey and bumble bees are the pollinators of a large percentage of crops. And here’s the real sting in the tail – the value of bee pollination activity is estimated at £200m per year in Britain and £128bn globally.
Michael Denmead of Barr Ellison Solicitors waxed lyrical about the efforts of Peter Wordingham and his business. He said: “You don’t find too many pest control specialists turning into bee charmers. This is an incredible social enterprise by the company and a venture that deserves every support and encouragement.”
• PHOTOGRAPH SHOWS: Peter Wordingham (left) and Paul Savvides with honeycombs. Photo credit : Alan Bennett/Media Imaging Solutions