Plymouth University Bee Keeping Association

IMG_1157 (1)IMG_1154 (2)
Apis mellifera mellifera
on Plymouth University Campus.

Populations of bees are in decline in the UK and around the world. The Portland Villas Apiary on Plymouth University Campus provides the opportunity to help support the honey bee as a pollinator. Without insect pollination about one third of the crops we eat would need to be pollinated by other means, at great expense. Bees are the predominant and most economically important group of pollinators in most geographical regions.

The project to keep bees on campus is a great opportunity for Plymouth University. We applied to install a permanent resource. We anticipate developing a substantial and significant contribution to the university and wider community, as well as academic research outputs will be numerous over several years.
The installation is in collaboration with the B4 project

• It will create connections with a growing research agenda in an area that both has a high public interest and is interdisciplinary and will provide onsite facilities for bee research.
• Increase opportunities for outdoor learning, wellbeing activities and curriculum development.
• Increase biodiversity on campus and raise awareness of the plight of the honey bee amongst staff, students and visitors.
• Strengthen PU involvement with B4 partners in the region including the Eden Project, Paignton Zoo and Duchy Estates
• Installing beehives on campus will contribute to bio diversity, provide an excellent teaching and learning resource, research facility and also enhance community engagement opportunities.
• To engage staff and students in sustainability education opportunities both within and beyond the formal curriculum through the B4 project
• To promote the benefits of saving the remnant population of the native Apis mellifera mellifera (Black Honey Bee). The Black Honey Bee was the original bee of the British Isles.
• To generate and distribute a sustainable population to new and established bee keepers in the South West peninsula and educate these beekeepers, and the public, in the benefits of breeding AMM.
• Reduce our reliance on imported honeybees, making honey production and pollination more sustainable and less susceptible to imported diseases.
• To develop local knowledge through involvement of communities across the South West.

Why we wanted to install beehives with Apis Mellifera Mellifera at Plymouth University:

• The bees will contribute to bio diversity
• Can be used for teaching and learning: by observation, series of lectures, on site visits etc.
• Possibly almost every subject taught on campus could benefit from learning from the bees: architecture, music, science, philosophy, history, co-operation, mathematics, navigation, biodiversity etc.
• Local community engagement: in particular the Natural Connections programme for primary schools
• Research: all disciplines

Management of bees on campus:

• Year 1 (July 2015 – April 2016): Six members of staff are trained in bee keeping by qualified beekeeper (British Beekeepers Association)
• Year 2 (May 2016 – December 2016): Plymouth University Beekeeping Association will be open to students and staff, and run on a volunteering basis

Installing beehives at Plymouth University Campus has been supported by:

School of Art and Media

ICCI / Affinity: Innovation for the Creative and Cultural Industries, Faculty of Arts and Humanities

Centre for Sustainable Futures, Plymouth University

Plymouth Growing Futures, Plymouth University

Land/Water and the Visual Arts Research Group

Contact person:
Heidi Morstang
Scott Building 217
Plymouth University
Drake Circus


Dr Lea Bayly

Beekeeping for Beginners at Plymouth University 2015

Session 1A: Health and Safety in the Apiary

  • Apiary layout and risk management of hives, equipment and bees (including dealing with overly defensive bees); chemicals used in Varroa treatments and tool cleaning; lifting and handling issues; first aid and management of serious adverse reactions to stings.


Session 1B: The Hive and its Components (to run in same session as 1A)

  • Assembling the hive correctly; the concept of bee-space and problems arising from incorrect bee-space
  • Making up a frame from wax foundation and frame components


Session 2: The Biology of the Honey Bee (with special reference to  Apis mellifera mellifera)

  • The castes of bees (queen, worker and drone)
  • The roles of each in the hive
  • The concept of “queen substance” and its importance
  • Swarming and swarm management


Session 3: The Year’s Work in the Apiary

  • Opening a hive after Winter (using a teaching aid of dummy frames in full-sized hive)
  • What to look for in Spring; sampling for Nosema apis– techniques involved
  • The management of bees throughout the season, with critical time-frames and associated activities
  • Removing honey supers and precautions to be observed
  • Extracting honey
  • Treating for Varroa and feeding for the Winter


Session 4: Pests and Diseases – Varroa destructor

  • Varroa destructor: its lifecycle and impact on bee health
  • Monitoring for Varroa throughout the year
  • Treating Varroa using an Integrated Pest Management System
  • The Veterinary Medicine Directive on recording and managing chemical treatments


Session 5: Notifiable diseases and Pests: American Foulbrood (AFB) , European Foulbrood (EFB), Small Hive Beetle (SHB), Tropilaelaps, Asian Hornet

  • AFB and EFB:their biology and impact; how to identify their presence; the role of the Bee Inspector in disease diagnoses and management; standstill notices, the management of bees during a notice; outcomes for the bees concerned
  • Other brood diseases and adult parasites – identification and treatment
  • Pests both native and non-native, and responsible management and reporting of their presence or potential threat.




Session 6: Honey – its composition, role in the hive and as a human foodstuff

  • How bees forage; the collection and processing of nectar by bees
  • Food handling and hygiene legislation; Trading Standards legislation as applied to honey
  • Labelling of honey for sale
  • Making up sugar syrup and candy for replacement feeding; timing and methods of application in the hive.


Session 7: Primary Practical Session

  • The role smoke in colony control; lighting a smoker; precautions to be observed
  • Use and management of the hive-tool; opening a hive to perform an inspection; placing hive parts safely during inspection
  • Finding the queen
  • Identifying eggs, larvae and sealed brood
  • Identifying food stores: pollen and nectar/honey


Session 8: Practical swarm control measures

  • Identifying when bees are preparing to swarm
  • Different methods of swarm control
  • Using the swarm-preparations and a means of colony increase
  • Taking and hiving a swarm