Beekeeping: Our Story and Advice

Our head office team are all buzzing about our honeybees, and you might be too if you knew how important they were and how easy it is to keep them. In this article, we share our experience of beekeeping and offer you some advice to help you get started.

Beekeeping at Planteria

We take the environment and the stewardship of it very seriously. It’s our job to work with nature and improve workplaces across the UK, and this encourages us to understand the importance of natural habitats and how to protect them. Caroline works in our New Business team and she recently became our resident Beekeeper. Read Caroline’s blog below which includes tips and facts to inspire you.

Beekeeping at Planteria – by Caroline

It seems a little ironic to decide to become a beekeeper with a postage stamp for a garden. But, with my first nucleus hive just set up and prepped for winter, here’s how I started my beekeeping adventure.
I have always had a fascination with bees; they are remarkable insects! Every colony is a highly complex community made up of around 50,000 bees, each with a specific role to ensure the survival of the colony as a whole. Bees play an essential role in all ecosystems, pollinating most flowering plants, in turn serving all other animals, with around a third of human food-producing crops reliant on them.

The honey they produce boosts our immune system, provides protection from pollen allergies and has wound-healing benefits through its antibacterial properties. It is also a delicious and natural source of sugar which our bodies find easier to process. The bees produce honey to feed on and, more specifically, to store to ensure their survival through winter. Given enough nectar to forage, and somewhere to store it, they will keep producing it to excess all through the summer, which we can then extract.

There are approximately 44,000 amateur beekeepers registered across the UK, managing over a quarter million hives. Over the last few decades, most of the honeybees’ natural habitats have been destroyed, along with their food supply, so these managed hives make up most of the UK honeybee population today.

 

I had the opportunity to take part in a beginners’ beekeeping course run by my local beekeeping association. This involved six fascinating evening classes and a little hands-on experience with the bees and their honey. I really just wanted to learn more about bees and maybe lend a hand at the local apiaries. It created a lot of interest at work and I suggested we could have our own hive at Planteria.

We have a clear view of environmental issues and are proudly a zero-to-landfill site, alongside other positive changes like using hybrid vehicles to further limit our environmental impact. It wasn’t a stretch to think Planteria would be open to the idea of a little backyard beekeeping, and I have such amazing employers who not only thought it was a great idea – but they also covered the cost of bees, the hive and equipment too.

We are so lucky to have a rural office space with over an acre and a half of meadow. With it already home to our sheep and lots of chickens, the bees are barely noticeable and have lush hawthorn hedgerow and dandelions to forage from. Our year-round supply of office flowers, awaiting delivery to our customers, also provides a unique and diverse menu for our bees.

With any little luck, and despite my novice beekeeping skills, our bees will be producing honey from spring next year. In fact, if all goes to plan, I should be harvesting upward of 10kg honey from our single hive.

Starting Your Own Beehive and Supporting the Bees

We highly recommend meeting with your local beekeeping association who are experts at beekeeping and can support you with both knowledge and resources. They can give you lots of advice on the local species, how to build your own beehive and the cost of beekeeping.

Spring is the best time of the year to start beekeeping if you are starting from scratch, so prepare ahead. It is best to introduce bees to a new hive during spring, so they have the whole summer to forage and settle with a good stock of honey for winter. Plan to have all your equipment ordered during late autumn and installed before the end of winter so that you can order bees, get some training, and be fully prepared for their arrival.

There is a lot to think about when installing bees on your property; you’ll need to think about appropriate areas of shade, raising the hive to a good height so you can access it easily, and buying protective clothing to tend to your bees without getting stung. You may also want to get tested for allergies by your doctor before you go all-in on your beekeeping. There’s a lot to consider, so speak to your local beekeepers and refer to our blog for more stories about our real experiences with honeybees.

The Top 5 Plants for Your Office

Everyone who has ever worked in an office knows that plants and flowers add to the atmosphere of a workplace. The buzz of background noise can not only be distracting, but can also increase levels of stress – particularly in open-plan offices where space is at a premium. You can reduce noise problems with plants because they absorb sound, making your office quieter and calmer.

Positioning plants in strategic locations around your office will create natural sound barriers. Even if you’re not buying plants for their sound reduction benefits, their potential to improve staff productivity and well-being means that even the smallest tree could work wonders for your office. This was discovered by a research experiment at Texas A&M University, which explored the link between flowers, plants and workplace productivity during an eight-month study.

Those taking part in the study performed creative problem solving tasks in a workplace with plants and flowers, a setting with sculptures, and an environment with no additional planting or decoration at all.

Participants were found to demonstrate more innovative thinking and generate more ideas and original solutions to problems in the office that included plants and flowers. Men who participated in the study generated 15% more ideas, whilst women generated more creative, flexible solutions to problems when plants and flowers were present.

With this in mind, we thought we’d share with you the top 5 office plants requested by our clients.

1.       Sansevieria Fernwood or Sansevieria Mikado

Sansevieria is a genus of about 70 species of flowering plants, native to Africa, Madagascar and southern Asia. Common names include snake plant, mother-in-law’s tongue, devil’s tongue, jinn’s tongue, bow string hemp and snake tongue. These are great air purifiers, making them perfect for offices.

2.       Succulents

These plants have thick and fleshy leaves which are used to retain water in the arid climates where they are native. The word “succulent” comes from the Latin word sucus, meaning juice, or sap. They come in a variety of sizes, colours and shades, which can allow for many beautiful combinations.

3.       Phalaenopsis Orchid

Also known as moth orchids, phalaenopsis is one of the most popular indoor orchids and is native to southern China, Taiwan, the Indian Subcontinent, Southeast Asia, New Guinea, and Queensland. These elegant plants make a real impact on an office environment, and are fairly hard to kill – great for a busy office!

4.       Ficus Ginseng (bonsai)

Ginseng bonsai are also known as ficus retusa, Banyan fig or ficus ginseng. Bonsai art appeared over a millennium ago in the Chinese Empire and was then known as Penzai. It was later adapted by the Japanese and its popularity spread all across South-East Asia. These are probably the most famous and easily recognised bonsai trees and are easy to care for.

5.       Dracaena Lemon & Lime (branched)

Native throughout Africa and also known as ‘Dragon Tree Lemon and Lime’, their brightly coloured leaves are a sight for sore eyes in a dreary office on a Monday morning. These plants can get quite tall; we recommend placing one or two around the corners of your office so that they are visible without taking up too much room. 

Think of your interior designs as investments in your staff – you’ll start to see some returns when their productivity increases. Improving the atmosphere of your office has never been easier, there are so many varieties and styles of planting available.  So if you like the look of these ever popular favourites, you’re looking for something different, or you have haven’t a clue where to start, contact us to find out more about our office plants for hire and our selection of flowers for offices, we’ll help you pick out the perfect plants for you.

CO2 Levels in Offices Are ‘Damaging UK Productivity’

Mixed planting in black planters

Competitiveness and productivity in the workplace are of paramount importance, with more emphasis on this than ever as the outcome of Brexit looms on the horizon. Research shows that the UK is lagging behind in the productivity tables, currently 26.2% lower than Germany and 22.8% lower than France based on GDP per hour worked. Whilst solving the productivity puzzle is an ongoing issue, a recent study into UK indoor office environments has considered environmental factors for the first time.

This headline-grabbing study found that employee performance declines when CO2 levels are high and also creates the impression of a stuffy office environment among many workers. With businesses wanting to boost their productivity, understanding how carbon dioxide impacts your employees’ work life is crucial.

As we look for solutions to this problem, one simple thing to consider is the inclusion of beautiful, lush plants.  These are not just something that is nice to look at – though biophilia tells us we love the sight of living things and crave to be in contact with the natural world – they’re also effective for purifying and oxygenating the air.

The Study

The research commissioned by Emcor, was carried out over a two-year initiative led by academics at Oxford Brookes University and LCMB Building Performance, and supported by Innovate UK, a government agency which aims to boost economic innovation. Several workplaces were tested over a period of two years, with sensors monitoring fluctuating CO2 levels during this time. Employees were sent numeral, proofreading and Stroop tests three times a day to complete. Read the full study here.

The results of the study corroborate the idea that the more carbon dioxide there is in the air, the lower the productivity. Employees worked 60% faster with lower levels of carbon dioxide and their test scores improved by up to 12%.

Sanseviera in red container and ivy plants in an office

The Importance of Oxygen in the Office

Poorly ventilated offices can have an average carbon dioxide level of 1000 ppm (or parts per million). In some meeting rooms, this can go up to 3000 ppm, as many people use them, and they’re often sealed, smaller environments. To put these figures into perspective, keep in mind that our outdoor environment tends to have a COconcentration of 405 ppm.

But how exactly can high levels of carbon dioxide impact your office? An increased intake of CO2 can actually lead to poor decision-making, and thinking processes this means that people’s mental capacity decreases. Reaction times are also slower, so employees may find it challenging to react properly and swiftly to things such as a fire evacuation or even simple, everyday tasks. CO2 tends to increase tiredness as well, meaning your employees will not be at their best and find it harder to cope with workloads and stresses. All of this contributes to a low-productivity environment.

Oxygen is fundamental for the optimal functioning of our bodies. Our cells use both glucose and oxygen, and brain function quickly declines when we don’t take in enough oxygen.  It is commonplace that office windows are sealed, and not able to be opened, this is often for safety and security reasons as much as to prevent impairment of AC efficiency.  And, as air pollution increases, it doesn’t come as a surprise that many offices across the nation suffer from lower percentages of oxygen and higher CO2 in the air.

To compound this problem further, UK office workers only spend an average of fifteen minutes outside in addition to their daily commute, so they are not exposed to much time in ‘fresh’ air, getting much-needed oxygen, on a daily basis.

Best Oxygen-Producing Plants for the Office

How can you get more oxygen into your office?  One simple solution is to add oxygen-producing and air-cleaning plants into the workspace. Plants are ideal for increasing air quality and nurturing the health and well-being of your employees. The following are just a few of the best indoor plants for boosting productivity in your office:

Areca Palm

This beautiful plant stands out for its ability to remove dangerous chemicals such as formaldehyde, xylene and toluene from the air, resulting in a purer office environment. Studies show that if you were to add four shoulder-height Areca palms per person to your office, and assuming the space was completely sealed off from the outside, everyone would still have enough oxygen to survive on during the day.

Areca Palm in Blue Pot

Snake Plant

Also called Mother-In-Law’s Tongue, this plant is highly efficient in transforming CO2 into oxygen at night. It also has the fantastic ability to purify the air by removing substances like benzene, formaldehyde, xylene, toluene and trichloroethylene. So, not only would your employees benefit from more oxygen, but the air would also be cleaner.

Peace Lily

Another plant that is perfect for cleaning the air is the Peace Lily. This species flourishes best in the shade, making it ideal for indoor environments, including your office. They’re also low maintenance, needing to be watered only once per week. You should never let the soil dry out and must use only chlorine-free water but, apart from that, this is an incredibly easy plant to take care of – perfect for a busy office. Peace lilies also remove acetone, ammonia, benzene and other harmful substances from the air.

The benefits of having several of these plants in the office are better air quality and beautiful flowers, as the peace lily blooms periodically.

There are many other office plants that will perfectly complement your workspace and elevate your current décor. If you’re looking to grow your productivity, make sure your employees can work in an environment with clean air. Our plants don’t just look great, they will also improve the air quality of your office, boosting your employees’ productivity. Have a look at how our beautiful plants can transform an office space by browsing through our case studies.

Contact us  today to get a free plant design and quotation.