Telford entrepreneur taking bee business to the next level
She has toured Shropshire's schools to teach children about bees for more than five years – and now has bigger plans for her future.
Telford entrepreneur Alison Wakeman, who runs Alison's Bee Class, has dedicated her life to informing people of all ages why bees are so important in the environment.
Since setting up her business, the 52-year-old has toured Shropshire, neighbouring counties and beyond sharing her passion for our little fuzzy friends.
Alison, who keeps colonies of bees, says she gets immense pleasure in seeing the joy on children's faces when explaining interesting facts, and she also talks to adult social groups.
She has bookings in her diary at the moment right through to November 2020.
"I feel it's so important to get children to understand how important bees are as well as reassure them that so long as they observe with their eyes and not their fingers, bees should never be feared," she said.
During her sessions Alison, of Great Hay, uses show and tell equipment to explain about the various types of bees in the UK, then focuses on life in the beehive before explaining how people can get involved and help bees in the future.
"My initial business idea to create an educational programme to offer to primary schoolchildren was well received by the schools I visited, but as school budgets are limited and there is lots of competition out there by other external educational providers, it was a hard slog getting business from new schools.
"Work mainly comes from recommendation and repeat work.
"The recent SATS included a question on bees, which has sparked a new interest. It's making schools aware that my business exists too."
She says people enjoy finding out about the life cycle of bees, as well as the various job roles they perform in their very short life.
"Bees are very topical," Alison said.
"People say to me afterwards, whether a guest speaker booking or teachers in a classroom, that they've always loved watching bees and sort of knew they were important but are totally amazed at just how interesting they are once I give them a detailed view into the bees world."
As well as working with organisations such as Telford & Wrekin Council and the National Trust, she mentors people she's been working with on her beekeeping for beginners courses.
Last year, after watching programmes highlighting that oceans were being filled with unnecessary plastic, she started a new venture.
She began to make re-usable beeswax food wraps – an eco-friendly version of cling film using pure cotton and beeswax.
Alison said: “I was horrified by the amount of plastic waste we produce and use so decided to try to make a difference.”
She says the concept has become a huge success and she aims to make them affordable so that more people will use them.
“They make lunchtimes and picnics fun as well as pimp up your fridge," Alison said.
"There's nothing funnier than opening the door to find pink unicorns and rainbows wrapped around a piece of cheese."
She says she is keen to grow her business further and would like to see the subject she speaks passionately about included in the national curriculum for primary schools.
"I'd also like to put on an evening with the bee lady at The Place in Oakengates, and I plan to approach some of the large employers in Telford to offer to visit their offices or factories and present an information stand about bees to spread awareness to their staff too. If any employers are interested, please let me know."