The resident bees at Cranfield University have been busy making honey over the summer months, and this September staff supported the annual harvest of its hives.

The University’s four hives, containing an estimated 240,000 bees, are positioned within a woodland area of the picturesque campus and are managed by groundskeepers, Nurture. Cranfield staff and students were invited to attend the Honey Harvesting Experience, during which they learnt about the ‘capping’, ‘spinning’ and ‘pouring’ of the honey. Altogether, over 100 jars of artisan honey were produced.

Becky Shepherd, Environment Coordinator, said: “It is great to see our colleagues getting involved with the honey harvest, which is one of many of the biodiversity activities that we support on campus. I’m thrilled that we have had such a successful harvest this year, as it has been the first full annual cycle for the bees and confirms that the colonies are well-established and healthy.”

Each colony is made up of a queen bee, female workers and male drones – each with very specific tasks to be undertaken within the hive, depending on their age. Over the winter, numbers will drop within the hives to around 5,000 as a bee’s life cycle is approximately 40 days and no young are raised over the winter months.

The Cranfield campus is a hot spot for biodiversity due to its rural setting among a habitat mosaic of scrubland, woodland, wetland and farmland. Each of the different areas has its own environment action plan which supports the campus ‘living laboratory’ philosophy. Areas of the campus are also devoted to wildflower plots which support natural biodiversity.  All this adds to the amenity value of the campus, providing more visually appealing natural spaces for staff, students and families, and for visitors to enjoy.

In 2017, the University won a Best Employee Engagement in a Wildlife Garden award for its significant engagement of staff and students in biodiversity across the Cranfield campus.  The Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire’s (BCN) Wildlife Trust was particularly impressed by Cranfield’s wildflower plots, organised biodiversity walks and the increasing number of protected areas where bee orchids, the county flower of Bedfordshire, can grow.

About Cranfield University

Cranfield University is a specialist postgraduate university that is a global leader for education and transformational research in technology and management.