Bees at UWE - UWE Students` Union

Bees at UWE
The Honeybee
• They have been around for 35-45 million years (Homo sapiens
have only been around for ≈ 200,000 years)
• Bees were worshiped by ancient cultures such as the
Egyptians, Greek and the Mayans
• One worker bee produces 1/12 of a teaspoon in its lifetime
• Honeybees are ‘Polylectic’ – which means they pollinate a
variety of crops
• Colony consist of:
– Queen Bee: Mother of all the bees in the hive
– Worker bee: Female bee responsible for nectar and pollen gathering,
nursing, or hive construction.
– Drone: Male bee responsible for mating (They are also unable to sting)
Why are bees important?
• One of the worlds most invaluable species
– 250,000 species of flowering plant rely on bees for
• Food (70% of our crop diet – e.g. Coffee, Chocolate)
• Medicines
• Clothes (Cotton)
• Berries and Seeds which feed species further down the
food chain
• “If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe, then man
would have only four years of life left. No more bees, no more
pollination, no more plants, no more animals, no more man.”
– Albert Einstein
Life without Bees?
Hand pollination in South West China
• Intensive farming,
excessive pesticide use
and lack of natural
habitat has forced
farmers to pollinate highvalue crops with
paintbrushes and pots of
pollen by hand.
• ….but unfortunately
there’s not enough
humans in the world to
pollinate all of our crops
by hand.
What about in the UK?
• Wild honeybees are nearly extinct in the UK and
honeybee survival depends on beekeepers
– There are half the amount of beekeeper than there
were 25 years ago
• From 1984-2005 there was a 53% decline in
managed honeybee colony numbers
– Who is to blame?
Parasites and disease
Climate Change
Air Pollution
Conventional Beekeeping Vs Natural Beekeeping
For the last 150 years beekeeping
has been compared to intensive
farming  Maximum honey
Replace honey with sugar water
during the winter
Artificial breeding
Suppression of natural reproduction
Frequent hive inspections
Chemical treatments
Usually around 30% of the colony is
lost during the winter
Hands-off approach
Bee-colony is respected as a wholeorganism, the ‘Bien’.
The colony is sustained on their own
honey during the winter, only excess
honey is harvested, if at all
The hives used reflect the needs of
the colony and its essential form.
With natural beekeeping methods
all colonies have been know to
survive the winter on numerous
“Put it in another way, conventional beekeepers demand control over nature; natural
beekeepers follow a path of trust in nature.” – Gareth, Cotswold
Example of a Natural Beehive
So why should we keep bees at UWE.?
• Promote awareness of bees and sustainability
• Potential interest into further research
• Pollinate the wild flower around campus (up to 4 miles away from the
• Build a relationship with the local and wider community
– Workshops
– Visits by local community groups and schools
– Beekeeping courses
The introduction of bees to UWE has the potential to create a buzz
around campus by bringing students from different faculties together
in the design and build of UWE’s very own natural, sustainable
Who will be responsible?
• During early phases UWE people and planet and the Green
Leaders will take responsibility of the hive, but as the project
progresses different roles will become available.
• We will have help and support from local bee keepers, bee
Bristol project and Bristol Bee keepers association.
What we would like to see at UWE
Bee Hotel – For solidary bees
Sun hive or similar ‘alternative’
hives – for honeybees
The next steps…
• Members of the UWE people and planet and Green leaders
will be undertaking a ‘Natural Beekeeping Course’ during the
summer to understand what is needed to achieve this project.
• Discuss with experts in the Bee world about the most viable
option for UWE and put a plan of action forward.
• Decide what type of Bees best suit UWE.
• Start a blog- raising profile of Bees on campus to engage with
students and gain interest and create excitement.
• Our intentions are to get Bees on campus over the summer to
showcase to Freshers and create excitement- with the
intention of opening up the design of a bee hotel for a further
colony to students as part of a design module.
What we need to know
• Identify a piece of land on campus to home the
• Assess the amount of wildflower on campus
• Have two action days to prepare the land and
plant wildflower to insure the Bees have enough
food to feast on. (River of flowers)
Assess what type of bees – wild- maintained or
both- British black bee- native UK – wiped out in
70s replaced by European bees- UWE could
support the native bee.
• Get a break down of costs for start ups
Thank you for listening!
For more information please contact:
[email protected]
[email protected]

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