Passfield Hall at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) welcomes some new guests this year - but instead of needing a room deposit these guests will pay their rent in honey.
Two honey bee hives have been installed at Passfield Hall, making it one of the first university halls of residence with its own bees. The two hives were officially welcomed to the hall at the end of at the end of July and it is hoped they will grow to house up to 100,000 bees.*
The hives are managed by professional beekeeper Dr Luke Dixon, who is an expert in rooftop and urban beekeeping and a member of the British Beekeeping Association.
They are housed on the first floor flat roof of Taviton at Passfield Hall, chosen for its low-wind and sunny position where the bee flight path is sufficiently out of the way of residents and close enough to food sources.
The hives are one of several new initiatives at the School aiming to improve its sustainability by enhancing the biodiversity and habitat on LSE's estate. LSE's new roof gardens, which are managed by staff across the School, were launched earlier this year and can be followed on Twitter.
Dr Victoria Hands, environmental and sustainability manager, said: 'We are thrilled to welcome bees to Passfield Hall. Our intention is to raise awareness with LSE staff, students and vacation guests about the importance of protecting our biodiversity and the bee in particular. Of course we are also excited at the prospect of producing our own Passfield Hall Honey too!
'As the bees are new colonies, we are leaving them most of the honey they have made to use as stores through the winter. We will just take a little off to sample. Next year though, if all goes well, we could get anywhere between 50 and 100 lbs of honey from each hive.The aim is to sell the honey and donate any proceeds back into sustainability projects in halls of residence.'
Ian Spencer, director of residential services at LSE and Richard Harris, nature conservation manager at the London Borough of Camden explained how pleased they are to be working together to create urban areas which support biodiversity and inspire others to see how they can also contribute to making London a leading sustainable city.
Click here for more on Passfield Hall Honey
* A hive can contain up to 70,000 bees in midsummer.
Contact: Jess Winterstein, LSE Press Office, on 020 7107 5025, firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes for editors:
The hives are a showcase project initiated by LSE Residences and the LSE Sustainability Team and supported by the LSE Students' Union.
The hives were officially 'welcomed' to Passfield Hall with an event on Wednesday 21 July. Ian Spencer – LSE director of residences, introduced the project. Richard Harris, nature conservation manager at the London Borough of Camden spoke on biodiversity and its importance for Camden and London, and Dr Luke Dixon gave a background to beekeeping before speaking about urban hives around London, what is involved in beekeeping and the Passfield Hall bees.
In the UK alone, bees contribute £200m a year to the economy through pollination. In all, bees play a crucial role in pollinating some 90 commercial crops worldwide.
The British Beekeepers Association (BBKA) estimates that if people were to take over the job of pollination from bees in the UK, it would require a workforce of 30 million. In southern Sichuan, China, pear trees are pollinated by hand after the uncontrolled use of pesticides in the 1980s killed the honeybee population.
Crops reliant on bees for pollination include: apples, pears, raspberries, plums, cherries, carrots and onions. However, it's not just fruit and vegetables; alfalfa, a major cattle crop, is 90% reliant on pollination by bees.
Source: A Spring without Bees by Michael Schacker, Lyons Press, 2008
A Bit about Bees…
In the UK there are approximately 44,000 beekeepers looking after around 240,000 hives.
A hive can contain up to 70,000 bees in midsummer. There is 1 queen, 250 drones, 20,000 female foragers, 30,000 female house-bees, 5,000 to 7,000 eggs, 7,000-11,000 larvae being fed and 16,000 to 24,000 larvae developing into adults in sealed cells.
The queen makes a mating flight during her early life during which she stores the sperm from up to 20 drones. Drones that mate with her die in the act. She can store the sperm for up to 5 years.
Bees are busy outside of the hive from the onset of warm spring weather until the beginning of autumn. While flowers are in bloom they will collect nectar and make it into honey which they store in the hive to live on over the winter months.
A worker honeybee in summer lives only 6 to 8 weeks from the time she hatches as an adult bee. Before that, it takes just 3 weeks for her to develop from an egg.
During the winter the bees rarely leave the hive but cluster together to keep warm. Winter bees live for 6 months and will occasionally go outside to defecate in order to keep the hive clean.