A VETERAN beekeeper is battling to bring a buzz back into Inverclyde.

Former housing manager Peter Gairns, who has been nurturing honey bees for nearly 70 years, is part of a local go wild campaign and helping to re-pollinate the countryside by encouraging wild flowers to grow.

Working with fellow bee-keeper Laura Reilly, he is determined to help reverse an alarming decline in the bee population and they have set up the Inverclyde Pollinator Corridor to protect the insects and butterflies.

The group have secured three sites, including one at Belville Community Gardens, to grow wild flowers and help the pollinators survive.

Beekeeper Peter has been devoted to his hobby since the age of five and since retirement he spends hours in his workshop, making all his own equipment.

Peter, aged 78, from Seton Terrace, said: “I learned from my grandad and I very much learned on the job.

“It is all instinct. I do not have any specialist training.

“With bees you have to work round them — they wait for nobody.

“The population is declining because of the wet and windy weather and the varroa mite.”

Peter opened up his five honeybee hives to let the Tele see the colonies at work.

Colleague Laura said: “It is very important that we encourage more wildflowers to grow. 

“The bee population has struggled because of the terrible weather conditions in the last 10 years but the varroa mite, a parasite on their backs, is killing them off.” 

Almost all of the UK’s wild flower meadows have disappeared gradually since since the 1930s and Pete and Laura are determined to protect what is left in Inverclyde by reseeding patches of vacant/derelict or council land.

In the last year they have worked on three sites — the ​former King’s Glen School in Kilmacolm Road, at Blairmore Crescent and Belville Street. 

The Belville site is now being developed into a biodiversity garden and there are plans to establish more sites over the next year.

The pollinator project also runs free workshops and one is taking place on Tuesday, about how to scythe.

Everyone is welcome at the old King’s Glen off Kilmacolm Road from 10.30am to 3pm.