Plan Bee, founded by Warren Bader in 2011, was created to help reverse the worrying decline in the UK bee population and allows landowners and organisations to highlight, and increase, their sustainability credentials by adopting a Honey Bee Colony.
The Plan Bee Team provides a beehive management service to ensure the welfare of their bees and to ensure that the honey being produced is of the highest quality without compromising the environment that helped produce it.
The honey is then gathered and produced to make unfiltered and cold pressed honey which is available for UK and International markets under the product names, ‘Origin’ and ‘Flower o’ Scotland’ respectively.
Plan Bee is dedicated to producing raw, multi floral variety honey, they do not over pasteurise, heat treat or over strain the honey. No blending of honey from different varieties, regions or even seasons takes place. It is processed in small batches to ensure that it remains pure and true to the area where the bees forage.
The Business Challenge / FHIS Journey
Plan Bee was initially supported by the Food & Health Innovation Service (FHIS) who helped them in a number of ways. A meeting with Julian Mellentin, one of the world’s few international specialists in the business of food, nutrition and health, helped the company to define and analyse strategic choices of consumer buying habits of honey with a view to selling Scottish honey products internationally, on the basis of their natural health properties. Additional market and strategic analysis helped to ensure that the Plan Bee brand propositions make sense and are consistent with the credentials of ‘pure’, ‘natural’ and ‘clean’.
The FHIS also introduced Plan Bee to Interface - who initiated two projects with two separate universities.
Prof Mike Lean and his team at University of Glasgow carried out a preliminary analysis of the bioactive properties of Scottish honey, pollen and propolis with a view to later develop in vivo studies; researching their natural health and medicinal properties. They tested the nutritional value of Heather honey, which has the same consistency and thixotropic properties of the premium Manuka honey from New Zealand, to understand whether Heather honey has the same health and antiseptic qualities.
Warren explains, “We know that all honey, taken orally, has health benefits, but what with more and more cases of antibiotic resistance the medical community are looking for more traditional alternatives to treating open wounds. Paediatric surgeons are already using honey on wounds and we were keen to see if heather honey would have the same healing qualities and well as having other health benefits.”
In addition, Dr John Isaacs from the University of Abertay undertook a full analysis of the potential benefits accruing from the adoption of QR codes to help track the provenance of the honey. Collaboration between the company and host establishments will indicate potential deployment of codes in and around those establishments (e.g. at the site of hives, shop and restaurants, etc.) The company will receive advice on novel uses and presentation of codes that might enhance visibility, and hence awareness, engagement and adoption.
Since the initial engagement with the FHIS programme in 2012, Plan Bee Ltd secured £130k investment through Kelvin Capital and Scottish Investment Bank matched with crowdfunding and has won a number of accolades and awards.
The project with University of Glasgow contributed to a better understanding of whether the health benefits of Scottish (heather) honey can compete with Manuka honey and can thus be marketed as being better or on a par with Manuka honey. The collaboration with University of Abertay analysed the most efficient and effective methods of combing QR codes with augmented reality media to best highlight the provenance of the honey products.
Founder Warren Bader continues to develop new eco-innovative products to the market. For example The List magazine singled out Plan Bee’s Beehive Brae Honey Beer as one of its leading products during Scotland’s Year of Food and Drink 2015. It is produced with honey from Plan Bee’s sustainably managed hives. They have also developed infused honeys under the Origin brand.