Posted Thursday 23 June 2011
A steady downpour of rain did not stop a roomful of staff and students arriving to welcome the new Kingston University bee colony. With the bees buzzing away in the corner in their travel box, expert Martin Kenny, a member of the British Bee Keeping Association, taught University volunteers all about the dynamics and practicalities of bee keeping.
Before volunteers donned their bee suits, there was still one task to complete - to build 16 hive frames. This included brood frames for the queen bee to lay her eggs in and hive super frames which the worker bees store their honey in.
Luckily, the rain stopped for just long enough to get the bees into their new home. Tina Corr, from the School of Education, who will act as the University's bee keeper was helped by six volunteers who all donned bee suits to watch close-up as the bees were introduced. The rest of the crowd watched safely at the classroom window.
Mrs Corr, who will be responsible for the bee hive which is based at the University's Kingston Hill campus, said: "I am really excited to be the custodian of the bees. We need to let them settle down for a week or so, but after that I can't wait to get started with the hive checks."
Lynsey Stafford, Biodiversity and Landscape Administrator at Kingston University, said the main reason for installing the new hives was to raise awareness of biodiversity and the importance that it played as part of people's daily lives. There would also be an opportunity to harvest honey. "Without insects we would not be able to grow many of our food crops," she explained. "Bees provide a pollination service estimated to be worth over £420 million per year to the economy in the United Kingdom. We are also really keen to produce some honey and to demonstrate local food production - but we won't be taking all the bees' honey as they need enough to feed themselves through the winter."
Staff and students are now being invited to sign up as bee-keeping assistants. The Sustainability Team also hope to sell their honey locally and provide tasting sessions.
Wates Construction Ltd helped the University to raise money to go towards this project as well as helping to tidy the bee hive area, plant some bee friendly plants and build frames for the second hive.