Hello! My name's Charlie and my company is looking into hosting some bees at our offices in London. Does anyone have any advice on how best we go about doing this?
Welcome to the forum.
From speaking to my colleague at work who deals with the ISO14001 environmental for us, I am aware that it seems a 'good thing' for offices to have bees in the car park or on the roof. And he went on a course earlier this year and it was positively encouraged by the course leader as a way of "helping the environment." For me, I bring some colonies to work as a temporary location or occasionally to overwinter. Forage is not too bad at this site and bees do well enough here despite being a mile from the North Sea and open to the North wind.
I have heard that there are problems in some parts of London due to too many companies siting bees on their roofs - i.e. too many colonies for the available forage, so I would be cautious about keeping them. If you don't have an experienced beekeeper employed by the business, then you will need to find a local beekeeper who will manage them. I would hope that they don't charge for the priviledge! (A good site is worth a jar of honey per year to the site owner). My own suggestion is that the beekeeper should have managed, as a minimum, 3 or 4 colonies for 5 years and have passed the BBKA 'Basic' exam. (Search for local beekeeping associations on the internet - most are part of the BBKA although not all). They should also have somewhere to remove bees to if there are any problems. (Say, someone has an allergic reaction to them).
Something that my colleagues are acutely aware of is bee poo. Even when just one small (nucleus) colony is 20 metres away from the car park, someone will notice little orangy-brown specs on their car and blame me!
You will need to expect the occasional swarm from the hives - a part of natural reproduction - and although I have always known bees to be gentle, they will alarm your work colleagues, they will spend man-hours looking out of the window at them and get your H&S staff hot under the collar!
Does this help?
May your bees read the same books as you do.