Most days, you can find Fay Heywood taking at least one stroll around the lush, 1 million square-foot campus where she works in Wolverhampton, U.K. – part of Collins’ Mechanical Systems Actuation business.
Heywood often heads straight for the row of five beehives tucked like tiny apartment buildings along a meadow garden at the back of the property. She’s welcomed by the hum of more than 70,000 honeybees who call the hives home – and who employees and locals refer to as “The Collins Bees.”
Placing the hives there, as well as creating the meadow, were ideas Heywood and the site’s Environment, Health & Safety (EH&S) team had in 2019. Heywood is a site EH&S advisor and thought bringing in the honeybees would have wellness perks for employees and be a positive addition to the area ecosystem. Employees would have a chance to take outdoor breaks to get to know their new “neighbors.” And, in addition to producing honey, the bees -- as prolific pollinators -- could help support healthy plant and flower growth at the site.
“We wanted to give people a reason to step outside and not only enjoy the natural world, but care for it at the same time,” said Heywood. “It’s been a great way to create a sense of community.”
She reached out to the local beekeeping association to bring in and care for the hives currently on site; and that group connected her to another nonprofit, Forest of Mercia, to help with plans to seed the meadow with wildflowers.
For now, employees can pass by the beehives when walking the perimeter of the meadow and are invited to purchase the honey and byproducts – the proceeds of which benefit local hospice and other nonprofits. Heywood also organizes periodic “meet the beekeepers” events on site, bringing in experts to talk about the lifecycle of the bees and the benefits of beekeeping.
Forest of Mercia also helped secure funding from another organization, Trees for Climate, to help Collins Wolverhampton create an onsite orchard of up to 50 fruit trees – more good news for the employees, the bees, and the environment.