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Take five by the hive

Turning under-used space over to Bees improved employee engagement, biodiversity and raised money for the local community in the UK.  

“The Smurfit Kappa SSK mill is three miles from the centre of Birmingham, occupies 22 acres of land, including green spaces,” says Paul Jones, Production Superintendent at the Smurfit Kappa SSK Paper Mill.

It was Paul, who suggested using some of this space for bee-keeping, as a way to bring the country into the city, while helping bees thrive in an unlikely location. The idea came as the mill’s employee engagement team was looking for projects for colleagues to work together on.

Working with Darren Welcome, an urban beekeeper, and Maria Ryan, Head of Human Resources, they founded the ‘Smurfit Kappa SSK Bee Team’. Shortly after, in May 2020, they welcomed three colonies of Buckfast bees, naming their hives Smith, Stone and Knight, after the mill’s original founders.

“This was during the COVID-19 lockdowns,” says Maria, “so it was a welcome distraction, creating huge employee engagement, and a generally beneficial effect on workplace relations.” “Everyone just works on this together,” continues Paul.

Maria aims to extend the project by running a ‘Take five by the Hive’ campaign as part of the Mental Health Awareness Strategy, to promote enjoyment of nature and mindfulness – staff have already begun work on planters.

“We had this idea that to engage our own employees, we should ask them how to engage with our neighbours, and it works,” tells Maria. “The hives create a welcoming habitat for birds and insects, while also providing a quiet area for employees to relax,” added Paul.

Additionally, the Corrugated Division designed paper packaging for the honey, which was sold to raise money for local food banks. We also have future plans to use money raised from the honey sales, to fund local allotment owners to grow produce, which will also be donated to the foodbanks.

Take 5 by the hive 

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