Honey Tasting Session and Movie Screening

Once you’ve harvested and extracted your honey, what’s the next step? Tasting it of course!

But first, there’s the little matter of labelling and hand-numbering 80 jars…

The honey tasting session, as always, was a great success, with over 30 people joining in to compare LSE Honey 2016 with the 2015 and 2014 vintages, as well as a couple of supermarket varieties (orange blossom and tropical forest honey).

The tasting session was followed by a movie screening – the movie having been picked by a democratic vote. The choices were Black Mirror: Hated in the Nation (a thriller about a dystopian future where real bees have died out and robotic drone bees are used for pollination); Bee Movie (an animated comedy about a rebel bee who wants to stop humans from exploiting bees); and More than Honey (an award-winning documentary about the age-old relationship between bees and humans, and why bees are dying out).


In the end, Black Mirror narrowly won out over More than Honey (which we might end up screening next term), and a small (we prefer the phrase ‘exclusive and intimate’) group of students watched a dystopian nightmare unfold on the big screen while munching on free popcorn.

Honey’s Here!

We just took delivery of this year’s honey harvest! 80 jars of bottled sunshine to get us through the winter months. (We’re yet to stick the labels on though.)

Remember, only society members can buy the honey (we’re a small outfit, so we – or rather our bees – don’t produce enough to cater to the whole of LSE). Members also get to try the honey for free at our tasting sessions. So if you’re not a member yet, this is a good time to sign up. We will soon publish info on how you can order a jar – watch this space!

How does honey go from hive to bottle? A while back we wrote about the process of harvesting, basically the process of taking frames with excess honey out of the hive. The next step is extraction. In the past we’ve done that at the Bee Collective in Victoria, but this year we did it as a joint event with City University. Here are some pics from ‘extraction day’ with explanatory captions.

Scraping off the wax seals to get at the honey inside
Putting the uncapped frames into a honey extractor which spins the frames around, flinging out the honey with centrifugal force
Manually straining with a sieve when the extractor temporarily malfunctioned
Rows of jars waiting to be filled


Our Location: 1898 and Today

Yesterday LSE hosted the Charles Booth Centenary Lectures. Booth’s seminal “poverty maps” of London had a profound influence on late 19th-century welfare reforms, and on the disciplines of sociology and social statistics.

Here is an extract from one of Booth’s maps dated 1898-99, with a yellow circle in the centre (which we added). Does the location seem familiar?

© London School of Economics & Political Science

The yellow circle marks the present-day location of Connaught House, where we have our rooftop hives. Booth coded the area with dark blue, which denotes “Very poor, casual. Chronic want.” (This is the second-lowest tier of poverty in Booth’s scheme, the lowest being “Lowest class. Vicious, semi-criminal.”)

And here is a recent satellite image of the same area. Again we’ve added a yellow circle, which encloses two white boxes. Can you guess what they are?

Imagery ©2016 Google, Map data ©2016 Google, used by permission

Yes, they are two of our hives!

Gearing up for Winter

Weather permitting, we will have a hive visit this Thursday (3 November); as usual, we’ll send our members an email to confirm. We’re departing from our usual Wednesday schedule just for this week because Luke has other commitments.

In October we have not been meeting every week as we do in the warmer months. As the weather gets colder, we visit the hives less often (once a fortnight or once a month, depending on necessity). It’s because bees like to keep the interior of the hive at a toasty 27°C, and every time we open a hive, it brings the temperature down.

We had two hive visits this month (October 5 and 12). In addition, Luke and Dan (from the Sustainability Team) went up to the roof a couple of times for routine hive maintenance. In case you missed the hive visits, here’s a quick summary of what we did this month, much of which can be filed under preparing for winter:
  • To reduce the size of the hives and make it easier for bees to keep them heated in winter, we removed and stored some empty supers and frames.
  • The white hive had Varroa mites (a bee parasite), so we gave the hive some Varroa treatment. At the next visit we saw lots of dead Varroa, which is a good sign. Unfortunately it now seems like the cedar hive might have developed a Varroa problem as well.
  • We replaced the liquid food in all our hives with fondant (bee candy), an emergency winter ration.
  • We painted the roofs of the white and the yellow hives as protection against rain.
  • The roof of the yellow hive has some bad rot which we cut out and filled but we will need to replace it shortly.
Painting the hives (photo courtesy Jess)

Hopefully all these measures will make life a bit easier for the bees, and we will find them happy and healthy when we visit them again this week!

Sustainability at LSE

Let’s face it: September was the Month of Unabashed Self-Promotion. In a bid to recruit new members at the start of the academic year, we launched (by our standards) a veritable publicity blitz involving a give-it-a-go eventpromotional fliers, and even an inflatable bee costume. And it worked! The LSESU Beekeeping Society now has more members than ever before (85 at last count) – not bad for a niche society.

But it’s October now, and we’re tired of self-promotion (and presumably, so are you). So we decided to write a post which – from here on in – is not about us at all. Instead, we wanted to showcase some other teams and societies within LSE that promote sustainability and environmental causes.

sustainable-lse-logoThe LSE Sustainability Team
: Coordinates the School’s approach to the environment, working with teams across the LSE community to embed sustainability in the everyday life of the university.
Facebook page

EcoSoc: Campaigns on animal rights and climate issues and holds regular screenings, panels and socials.
Facebook page

Sustainable Future Society: Works to increase LSE’s sustainable practices by working jointly with staff and students on environmental initiatives. Also administers the Sustainable Projects Fund.
Website | Facebook page

FoodCycle Society: Raises awareness of and helps tackle food waste, food poverty and social isolation, all whilst supporting the charity FoodCycle.
Facebook page

Oikos: Aims to educate future leaders (i.e. LSE students) about sustainable economics and management.
Facebook page

CSR and Ethical Business Society: Explores how businesses can create a positive impact for the greater community while maintaining and furthering financial incentives.
Facebook page

Energy Society: Shaping the debate on energy-related fields both within and outside LSE.
Website | Facebook page

LSE Divest: Campaigning for LSE to divest its endowment from fossil fuel companies.

LSE Bicycle User Group: A group for LSE students and staff to come together and discuss how to improve cycling in and around the School.

So, which of these do you want to get involved with? And are there are any other LSE societies or groups we should have covered?

Special thanks to the LSE Sustainability Team for organising a ‘Get Involved’ event on 26 September where we got to meet representatives from many of these societies and found out about the fantastic work they do.