10 Reasons to Join LSE Bees

Did you see us at the Freshers’ Fair today? Just in case you missed us, we will be there again tomorrow! If you’re wondering how you’ll recognise us, that’s the least of your worries:

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Some students we met said “Hey it’s cool that you have bees on campus but umm… beekeeping is not really my thing.” In case you’re thinking the same thing, we’ve put together 10 great reasons why you should join LSE Bees:

1. Get yearlong, hands-on beekeeping experience under the guidance of a professional beekeeper – Dr Luke Dixon of Urban & Community Beekeeping. By contrast, a two-day introductory beekeeping course costs upwards of £150. No prior experience required!

2. Taste delicious honey which you’ve helped produce.

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3. Our membership fee is just £1.50 for a whole year! Former president Amelia Sharman called it “the best £1.50 I ever spent”. The money goes towards hive maintenance and buying necessary supplies such as protective suits (which you can borrow).

4. Our hives are on campus, so there’s no need to travel. And there’s no commitment – you don’t have to turn up if you have exams or something.

5. Meet like-minded undergraduate, post-graduate and PhD students from all across LSE and take part in events like honey tasting and bake sales.

6. Take a break from your studies to enjoy the fresh air, sunshine and great views over London from the roof of Connaught House.

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7. Learn about the secret lives of bees – they are the most fascinating creatures on the planet (no, we’re not biased at all).

8. Help protect pollinators who play a crucial role in our food supply chain.

9. Annoy your friends with bee puns.

10. Get the best selfies ever (and if we managed to convince you, click here to join!)

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Freshers’ Fair Fliers, and a Dead Wasp

Our fliers for the LSE Freshers’ Fair have arrived from the printers!

We have a customised, limited-edition flier for each department at LSE – find your department below! Then visit us at the Freshers’ Fair tomorrow and Friday to visit us and pick up your fliers in person.

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And here’s a selection from our second set of fliers which are in colour:

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We had a fun visit today, with a couple of first-time visitors along with the usual suspects. Louise stole the limelight, with a bee costume that we will also be wearing at Fresher’s Fair (just so that you have no trouble identifying us!)

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But it was not all fun and games: we also got some work done. Since we took some of their honey last month, we made sure the bees were not lacking in food (the white hive and the cedar hive got a liquid sugar solution, while the painted hive and the nuc got solid food aka fondant).

We also took out some empty frames from the hives to reduce the hive cavity, making it easier for bees to keep their home warm as winter approaches. Our improvised rock pool had dried up in the hot weather, so we topped it up with water. The bottom-boards of the hives had bright yellow pollen which Luke identified as coming from dahlia (thankfully there were no varroa mites). But our inspection of the bottom-boards also revealed a more sinister surprise: a dead wasp.

Unlike bees, wasps are carnivorous; they eat bees and take their honey. They are also bigger and stronger, and can sting multiple times (unlike bees which die after they sting). But bees have a clever method of fighting back. This particular colony had evidently vanquished the wasp and cast out its corpse to be eaten by ants.

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On that note, we can now reveal the answer to last week’s “Guess what” question. The picture showed “entrance reducers”. These are placed at the hive entrances, to reduce the opening that bees have to guard against invaders like wasps. Without the reducers in place, it is likely that the hive that was attacked by wasps would have seen far greater casualties.

New-Look Website

At LSE Bees, September is a season of many changes. It feels like the culmination of the beekeeping year, because this is when we harvest our honey and lay the foundations for next year’s harvest. On a more prosaic note, this is when we renew our LSESU memberships and look to recruit new members at the Freshers’ Fair. This year, the winds of change blowing all around us inspired us to redesign our website.

The current design sports a more minimalist look, with a touch of yellow (hex colour code #f3e5a9) to reflect the bee theme. More importantly, with the increasing use of smartphones, we wanted a website with “responsive design” (one which can change its layout based on whether it’s being viewed on a computer screen, tablet or phone) for a better viewing experience.

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The new website on different devices

Long-time readers may recall that this is not the first time we changed our design. The first design, adopted when the blog was started way back in November 2011, was replaced by a second design in the summer of 2015. For the nostalgic among you, this is what v1 and v2 looked like:

v1

v2

So, what do you think of the new design? Are there any old features that you miss, or any new ones that you’d like to see?

Not the Bees: a new song by Octopuses

This is a guest post by freelance journalist Lucy Woods.


Five-piece, Brighton-based, self-proclaimed “psychedelic indie-pop” band Octopuses is campaigning to raise awareness for the plight of bees.

The campaign is asking bee-appreciators and environmental advocates all over the internet to re-tweet or share their music video: ‘Not The Bees’ today; Monday 12th September. The Twitter hashtag for the campaign is #NotTheBees. The song will be officially released Friday 30th September, with all sale proceeds donated to bee charities.

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Native UK bees have declined from 50 recorded species in 1950 to 25 today. Non-native bee species, increased use of insecticides and pesticides, genetically modified crops, loss of habitat, monoculture and bees not adapting to climate change, are all thought to be causes for the decline of bees in the UK.

Talking to frontman and keyboard player, Adam Bell, he said the song was a “more fun approach” to raising ecological awareness “than your average wildlife documentary.”

The lyrics originated from a common experience: finding a dead bee and not knowing what to do about it. Bell attempted to save this dead bee by smothering it in honey. “Unfortunately it didn’t work,” he says.

Despite the dead bee, a memorable chorus was born: “…I don’t know why this bee had to die, why oh why couldn’t it just stay alive? No amount of honey could keep this bee alive!”

Bell says he hopes the song will start discussions, “in an accessible way,” adding that, “as a rock band we don’t have to worry about […] rocking the boat as much as, say, government lobbying organisations.”

The band’s eco-awareness was partly influenced by living in Brighton (the only UK constituency with a Green Party MP), says Bell.

In support of the campaign, Brighton MP Caroline Lucas said, “bees play an essential role in our ecosystem, pollinating plants and crops.” Lucas also quoted a University of Reading study that estimates pollination by hand would cost £1.8 billion a year. According to a Farmer’s Weekly survey, that’s enough to pay over 7,000 full time farmers an average wage, every year.

Octopuses’ rapper and singer Tom Matthews has volunteered for the Green Party, and studied an MSc in Sustainable Cities at King’s College. However, Bell says Matthews’ original climate change concerns were actually born from “losing sleep after watching documentaries as a young teenager.”

Smalan Odgers – Octopuses’ guitarist and video creator – is also an amateur naturalist who has spent late nights watching doomsday documentaries about bee-decline. “Losing bees could be the loose bit of wool on a finely knitted jumper, it could unravel the beautiful and delicate ecosystem we live in and plummet us into a dystopian nightmare,” Odgers said.

You can help their campaign to save bees by sharing this link:
https://youtu.be/BRwN7rr0blU

Octopuses released their debut album, ‘Yes Please’ last year. The band says all sales of their single ‘Not The Bees’ will be donated to bee charities. They are playing at the Prince Albert, Brighton, on Friday 16th September.

Bell says hopefully the campaign “will inspire others to get involved and this will have a knock on effect which could really make a difference.”

“Also, the song is really good.”


lucyejwoodsprofileLucy EJ Woods is a freelance journalist specialising in energy and environment. You can see her work here and follow her on Twitter @lucyejwoods.

Help Process LSE Honey 2016!

Two weeks ago we harvested our honey, so now it’s time to process it! We will be extracting, filtering and bottling the honey – one of the most exciting events in the beekeeping calendar. As an LSE Beekeeper you can get a ringside view of the action and even get your hands dirty sticky if you fancy some hands-on involvement. Here are some pics from two years ago, just to give you an idea of what it’s like.

Please note that processing will be done ‘offsite’ at City University near Angel tube station from 12.30–17.00 on Thursday 8 September. If you would like to join, please send us an email or message us on Facebook, and we will send you all the details.