Business Gateway helps beekeeping school create a buzz 

The Bee School

A BEEKEEPING school has successfully launched and improved its search engine optimisation (SEO) ranking after the owner received support, advice, and signposting to funding from West Dunbartonshire Council Business Support, from Business Gateway and DigitalBoost, Scotland’s national digital upskilling programme.  

Based in Loch Lomond, family-run business The Bee School is a not-for-profit organisation that focuses on making beekeeping fun and accessible for all ages. It aims to educate the public on the benefits of keeping bees for both individual and environmental reasons through a range of beekeeping experiences, including summer schools and bee safaris.  

The school offers various activities including a two-day Weekend Bee School course which covers the basics of starting out as a beekeeper, including theory and two practical sessions involving conducting a hive inspection. Bee Safaris provide the perfect day out for families and consist of an introduction to honeybees, a honey tasting session from different nectar sources and an inspection of a live honeybee hive.   

Founder and owner Heather Jackson, a former senior project manager, started keeping bees as a hobby over seven years ago. She has always wanted to open a bee school to share her knowledge and encourage others to become involved in the activity, but lacked the practical knowledge required to start a business.   

Armed with a unique business idea, Heather approached Business Gateway for help to turn her vision into a reality. Heather accessed a suite of Business Gateway’s start-up services, including 1:1 support from a dedicated business adviser, as well as advice on her business plan, funding, marketing, and networking opportunities.  

Introductions made through Business Gateway resulted in The Bee School successfully accessing start-up grant from West Dunbartonshire Council, as well as a capital grant that helped towards the purchase of 17 beehives and two bee suits. The new hives were essential for The Bee School’s success in achieving beekeeping accreditation, which requires a minimum of 30 hives.  

Through Business Gateway, Heather also benefitted from DigitalBoost support, which included a full Digital HealthCheck to determine what areas of their digital presence required improvements. This support and newfound knowledge were critical for improving The Bee School’s social media marketing and SEO performance, which has resulted in a dramatic increase in brand awareness and led to a record sell out of the bee safaris this summer.  

Thanks to Business Gateway’s networking opportunities, and utilising the adviser’s previous business contacts and network, The Bee School also recently purchased a further 6 honeybee colonies, which have been essential for Heather and her apprentice, Katie, to run the weekend and summer bee schools.  

Heather Jackson, owner of The Bee School, said: “I realised that there was a severe lack of beekeeping provision for young people in my local area and I wanted to do something about it, but I needed support and expert business advice to get me started.” 

“My adviser was fantastic throughout the whole process and the DigitalBoost support we received has been particularly beneficial for the growth of The Bee School. We are now one of the first hits when you search for beekeeping schools on Google which is a significant development for us, as we used to be featured at around page 50.” 

Matthew Wheeler, Business Gateway adviser, said: “The Bee School is an example of how Business Gateway can help businesses to both start-up and scale up their operations effectively. It’s fantastic to see how popular Heather’s offering has been in the local community over the summer months. We will continue to support The Bee School as it continues to expand, and I look forward to watching the business grow over the coming months and years.”   

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