Exclusive interview with Jessica Lobo: LSE’s new Sustainability Engagement Officer


Jessica Lobo joined LSE last month as Sustainability Engagement Officer. Sustainable LSE is a core part of LSE Bees, so we will be working closely with Jess in the weeks and months to come. Welcome to LSE, Jess!

What is your role at LSE?

I’ve just started as the Sustainability Engagement Officer. A lot of my work is coordinating Green Impact but I also do all the comms for the Sustainability Team, and get to work on some fun student initiatives too!

What are the best (and worst) parts of your job?

The best parts of my job are getting to meet all the staff/students and plan creative ways to address sustainability – I spend a lot of my day chatting to Green Impact teams from all departments across the University and I love that – they’re full of exciting ideas! The worst part is probably Wednesday afternoon around 4pm, when I realise I have to wait another week before I can see the bees again..!

Did you know about LSE Bees before you joined?

I’d read somewhere that LSE had some bee hives, but I didn’t know much more than that. It wasn’t until Dan told me that I could join, that I became really excited. Consequently I spent most of my first week at LSE telling my friends that I was going to be a beekeeper.

And has your experience so far with LSE Bees lived up to your expectations?

LSE Bees is great! It’s definitely one of the highlights of my job, and I love meeting the enthusiastic bunch from the Beekeeping Society. I’m looking forward to being able to sample some of the honey soon too..!

As our Sustainability Engagement Officer, do you have any green tips for LSE Students?

There’s a lot you can do to be a greener student, but my best advice would be to get involved in sustainability whilst you’re at university – there’s so much to get stuck into at LSE and it’s all really fun (as well as really beneficial!) I can’t think of many other environments which are so easy to join in with food cycling or get funded for a sustainability project of your own, for example, so it’s such a good hub of opportunity and people.

If I could give LSE students one tip however, it would be to hop on a bike and explore the best of London’s side streets and quirky spots that way. The dozens of bike specific routes make it incredibly easy to cycle now, and it really is the most enjoyable, cheapest and quickest mode of travel compared to the stuffy tube!

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I’m part of the Northbank community choir and I’ve just started learning German – which is going to be a challenge for me! When the weather’s nice you can usually find me in the garden trying to resurrect my latest grow-your-own veg projects (which have varying degrees of success), but now that it’s winter I guess I might try my hand at making some sloe gin and mulled wine instead..!

Supersedure! (or, Meet Our New Committee)

What happens when a queen grows old? Left to themselves, the bees replace her with a new virgin queen – a process known as supersedure.

When the virgin queen emerges from her cell, the first thing she does is to kill any rival virgin queens by stinging them repeatedly. The old queen is killed off too, though no one is quite sure how it happens – is she murdered or starved to death by the workers, or killed by the virgin queen herself?

Anyhow, supersedure in the LSESU Beekeeping Society is much less grisly affair. The transfer of power occurred at an AGM in Room 9.05 of Tower 2, without a drop of blood being spilt. The AGM was chaired by Louise, who steered the society wonderfully well as last year’s President (and caused a sensation at Freshers’ Fair in her bee suit).

And thus we introduce you to our new Exec Commitee for 2016-17:

Top row: Sroyon (President), Jay (Treasurer), Ed (Treasurer), Chandra (Secretary)
Bottom row: Tom (Secretary), Jenna (Communications Officer), Rachel (Events Manager)

Record Numbers at Our Give-it-a-Go Event

Our ‘Give It a Go’ event, which was also the first hive visit of the new academic year, was a great success. Around 45 people turned up, making it probably our most well-attended hive visit ever (and getting us featured as “Star of the Week” in the latest edition of the LSE Student Newsletter!)

Heeding Dan’s warnings about not having more than 15 people up on the roof at the same time (a health and safety requirement), we did the hive visit in three batches. Some first-time beekeepers had to wait their turn on the Connaught House stairs, but fortunately this did not appear to dampen their spirits (the wait could have been even longer if not for the three extra bee suits which Louise, with great foresight, had ordered the week before).

To those of you who joined us on the roof, thank you for your interest – we hope to see many of you again at future hive visits!

Beekeeping 101 with our professional beekeeper Luke Dixon
Many people got their first experience of hands-on beekeeping
People not wearing suits, wisely keeping a safe distance

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:


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.


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.


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!)



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!)


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.