The university is one of the biggest land owners in Cardiff and for this reason has a key role to play in support the biodiversity of the city.
With the support of the Universities Estates department and the charity Buglife, we have seeded sites across the university campus with pollinator friendly plants with a view to providing much need food for these essential creatures.
Once grown, these plants will provide food for the Redwood bees and other pollinators on the University’s Cathays campus.
With the help of staff and students we have installed bee hives on the roof of the Redwood building, the home of the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.
With the help of the charity Buglife we have also landscaped the grounds around the building with antibacterial Tywyn plants - for example Galium odoratum (woodruff), Taraxacum officinale (dandelion) and Trifolium spp (clover).
To feed the thousands of extra bees we have introduced across the campus and to ensure that we don't disadvantage other pollinators we are enhancing both the amount of forage and the biodiversity of the university estate. In the last year working with estates we have planted approx. 1000m2 of wild flowers which have included plants identified by our research. In addition to providing more food for pollinators, wild flowers suck up more carbon than manicured grass and thus through this planting effort we have sequestered an additional 0.7 ton of carbon.
Hive and wild colony
Honey bees have been living on the Bute Building for several years - inside the red dragon which stands above the main entrance - but this is a wild colony.
A hive was installed on the roof in the summer of 2016 with the help of beekeepers in the Redwood Building who had drawn up the necessary protocols and safety procedures.
Staff from JOMEC, Architecture, the Bute Library and the Glamorgan building have joined the Bute Bees Club (BBC) and six members have been trained by Nature's Little Helpers in Lisvane. A second hive was added in 2017.
The first honey was taken off the hive in July 2017 and was available to club members and other Bute Building staff in return for a donation to the university bee-friendly campus project.
In 2017 the final go-ahead was given for planting 'bee-friendly' herbs and flowers at the front of the building. The plan had been held up by objections from some members of staff in Architecture who were concerned to preserve the aesthetics of Portland Stone surrounded by lawn in Cathays Park.
The council over-ruled the objections and BBC members planted wild garlic, primroses, heather and snowdrops donated by Bug Life. One of the MA International Journalism students captured the event on video:
Heebees on Haydn Ellis Building
Haydn Ellis staff recently got involved in the project after fundraising to get their own hive with wildflowers being planted to help support the bees.
Undoubtedly one of the best things about the project was the eagerness of people to get involved, to the degree that they had so many volunteers to become beekeepers, they had to pull names out of a hat.
The beekeepers themselves work across different schools and departments so it has been an excellent way to bring people together.
The bees have settled in well and are a mild mannered colony. In 2018 the plan is to split the hive to expand to two colonies, then to start harvesting some honey.
Contact us if you want to know more, or if you have an idea you would like to talk about.