Staff buzzing as bees clock in to Interface

Ryan McCavigan and Orla Hoy are part of a new 'Bee Shift' at Craigavon-based manufacturer Interface which is creating a one-acre nature reserve for 40,000 endangered Irish bees.
Ryan McCavigan and Orla Hoy are part of a new 'Bee Shift' at Craigavon-based manufacturer Interface which is creating a one-acre nature reserve for 40,000 endangered Irish bees.

Around 20,000 bees have clocked into work at a top Craigavon manufacturing firm, boosting its eco-friendly image.

Stemming from workers’ ideas, Interface have installed two hives full of around thousands of bees with plans for two more.

The volunteer beekeepers at Interface, a global modular flooring manufacturer, are currently looking after the bees.

Plus they are transforming what was once a wasteland at the rear of factory into a bee-friendly nature reserve.

This is the latest in Interface’s drive to transform into a sustainable and eco-friendly firm. They have already shown how large industrial companies can significantly reduce their carbon emissions and other environmental impacts through its ‘Mission Zero’ programme.

Now, in a bid to take the ‘sting’ out of any negative impace the company has on the environment, staff have been looking at what the Craigavon site would be like if it wasn’t a factory.

Ryan McCavigan, New Product Development Manager at Interface, said: “The idea came from Interface’s vision of ‘Factories to Forests’ which seeks to ensure that our operations have a positive impact on the environment rather than a negative one.

“That led to a conversation among the staff about bees and the environment,” said Ryan.

“Several months later we have two hives, 20,000 indigenous Irish bees and plans for another 20,000,” said the new beekeeper.

“We’re also creating a new one-acre wildlife meadow with bee-friendly plants and will be taking our beekeepers’ course in the New Year,” he revealed.

Chris McKeag, who also works on this ‘bee-utiful’ initiative, added: “By coincidence my day job is to manage the plant’s ‘B shift’.

“Now I’m part of a new ‘Bee Shift’ of dedicated volunteers who have been captivated by the amazing life of bees and who want to do their bit to help this under pressure species.”

There are around 5,500 known bee hives in Northern Ireland, but the bee population has fallen in recent years.

It’s estimated that up to a third of the island’s bee species are threatened with extinction.

This could have a major impact on the agri-food sector which relies upon bees to pollinate crops.

Interface has been operating in Craigavon since 1982. The plant employs 190 and currently produces five million sq m of bespoke, modular flooring annually.