Improving biodiversity on campus...

Swansea University is blessed with a wealth of habitats, from the beach and dunes of the Bay to the woodland and gardens of Singleton. These habitats are home to a rich variety of wildlife and provide the University with a wonderful resource, whether for teaching the next generation of ecologists vital skills and giving opportunities for research, or simply a healthy and relaxing environment for staff, students and local residents to recharge their batteries.

The Singleton Campus is regularly visited by iconic animals such as otters, polecats and kingfishers, there is a resident peregrine falcon and bats roost in the Abbey buildings. The University is also responsible for the last remaining wilderness of the Swansea Bay coast – the 600 acres of sand dune, saltmarsh and beach of Crymlyn Burrows Site of Special Scientific Interest next door to the new Bay Campus and both campuses are open for everyone to enjoy.

At the heart of protecting and encouraging wildlife at the University is the Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP). Under the first version of the BAP, produced in 2012, the University has undertaken significant work to enhance and promote biodiversity across its sites. They include embedding wildlife gardening techniques in the way we look after our grounds – leaving rough uncultivated areas, reducing mowing in areas of flower-rich grassland to let plants set seed, creating log piles for invertebrates and fungi and using home-produced compost as a mulch to reduce the use of pesticides; nest boxes and bug hotels have been put up around the campus, and a Nature Trail established (which was launched by the naturalist and TV presenter Iolo Williams).

During the summer of 2016 the BAP has had a complete rewrite, bringing it up to date and reflecting the fact that we now have two campuses to look after – key points include identifying suitable areas to create new wildlife habitats; giving everyone the opportunity to be learn about the wildlife we share our University with and the chance to get involved with conservation, and ensuring that development of the University takes nature into account so that year on year we will see an increase in our wildlife.

Biodiversity Action Plan 2016
Appendix 1, Singleton Campus species lists  (work in progress)

Biodiversity Action Plan 2016-2020

BAP

Embedding sustainability in the University's daily operations and teaching is at the heart of our institution's quest to achieve excellence in every aspect. Biodiversity Action Plan 2016  will help us move forward to reach our goal. Appendix 1, Singleton Campus species lists  (work in progress)

Crymlyn Burrows Conservation Volunteers

Volunteers

Learn new skills, make new friends, get some exercise in the fresh air and help us to keep the last wilderness around Swansea Bay special!

Crymlyn Burrows Conservation Volunteers meet every Wednesday afternoon under the supervision of the University’s Biodiversity Officer - to carry out a variety of tasks from coppicing trees and carrying out beach litter picks to surveying for rare beetles. Volunteering enhances any CV and ours is a friendly group open to all – no skills or experience necessary.

Crymlyn Burrows Conservation Volunteers

CBCV programme Autumn 2016

Crymlyn Burrows Site of Special Scientific Interest

Crymlyn Burrows Site of Special Scientific Interest

Next door to the Bay Campus, and also in the ownership of the University is the last remaining area of wilderness around the Swansea Bay coast. The sand dune, saltmarsh and beach habitats of Crymlyn Burrows are of national importance for their wildlife and home to a remarkable variety of plants and invertebrates. Some of the specialist sand dune plants are very rare indeed – field wormwood is only found (in the UK) in Breckland and on South Wales dunes, and has been reintroduced from locally collected seed. Among the vast variety of invertebrates that are found here are some very interesting sand dune specialities like the dune tiger beetle and dune chafer, and we are actively searching for the very rare strandline beetle that has been recorded here, but not seen in recent years. Driftwood along the top of the beach is essential for their survival – please don’t burn it!

For more information about the SSSI, and how you can help Click Here . Volunteers are essential to help us look after Crymlyn Burrows, whether by joining beach cleans, maintaining the paths or helping to control scrub and invasive species. To get involved, or to let us know of any interesting wildlife sightings email wildlife@swansea.ac.uk.

Beehives

Beehives on campus

Initially two beehives were introduced to campus in January 2014, since then the hives have grown to four and now to six and are still growing. The hives are located behind the Wallace building which provide a quiet and secluded area where the bees can be left in peace to make their honey. The bees and hives are owned by individuls on and off campus and are cordened off from staff and students by protective netting due to safety precautions, however they are still visible. If you are heading down to see the bees or to the botanical gardens please make sure you familiarise yourself with the health and safety precautions on this webpage before visiting.

Native UK wildflower meadow

Wildflower meadow planted on campus

A native wildflower meadow is being planted on campus as a potential pollen source for the bees whilst also improving and encouraging more insect diversity on campus. The seed mix planted is specific for bees and butterflies and contains species recognised as RHS Perfect for Pollinators such as poppies (Papaver rhoes), Borage (Borago Officinalis), Cornflower (Centaurea cyanus) and Goatsbeard (Aruncus dioicus). The mix contains around 26 flowering species that vary in height with an flowering season extending from May to October. A designated site has been set-aside for the wildflower meadow, behind the Penmaen building and can be enjoyed by staff and students alike in the future.

Bee-day: Honey bee workshop

Bee-event hosted by SEACAMS green impact team

On Wednesday August 20th the BeeCAMS Green Impact team hosted a great honey-bee awareness and information day for staff and students on campus. The day was packed with an informal series of informative talks and presentations by experienced beekeepers and societies and a practical session consisting of demonstration and observation hives and a tour of the university beehives. The event aimed to raise awareness and educate staff on the introduction of bees on campus, bees in general and their decline, green impact and biodiversity issues. 

Click here to view images of the event. 

Bee society

Bee society and information

As an outcome of the new bees on campus and the bee-day, we hope to develop a new Swansea University bee society. The positive response and interest to the introduction of bees on campus has been greater than we expected. We hope to continue this enthusiasm and interest by greating a working group where beekeepers and those interested in bees can come together, exchange ideas, hints and tips, raise awareness and maintain the bees on campus in the future.

For more information about joining the bee society, get in touch: sustainability@swansea.ac.uk

Find out more...

Health and safety information

Please familiarise yourself of how to behave around the hives and with the health and safety information supplied below.

Around the beehives

Do not approach the hives. Netting has been erected around the hives for student and staff safety. Bees will not generally sting if unprovoked, avoid making any sudden movements and loud noises. If antagonised by bees walk away and move into some trees if possible. People with allergies to bees should avoid the area completley.

Emergency procedures

If stung by a bee, allergy and anaphylactic shock can occur. In this case, seek medical assistance immediately. Locate the nearest telephone (Wallace building foyer) and dial 333. Alternatively, go to Fulton house security office. A list of Wallace staff first aiders and contact details can be found on the link below.

Beehive care and maintenance

At present, Swansea University does not own any beehives, although we hope to in the near future. In agreement with beehive owners, it is the responsibility of the beekeeper to maintain the bees, beehives and extract their own honey. Only experienced beekeepers should enter the bee enclosure and should wear a full length bee suit.

 

Contact details and health and safety procedure:

Bee Health and Safety Information

Bee facts

Within the hive

  • There are 3 types of bee in a hive: the queen, thousands of female workers and male drones in the summer.
  • In the summer a worker bee can expect to live for around 40 days and a queen can expect to live for around 5 years.
  • Jobs within the hive are based on age:Duties of Worker Bees
    1-2 days - Cleans cells and keeps the brood warm
    3-5 days - Feeds older larvae
    6-11 days - Feeds youngest larvae
    12-17 days - Produces wax, Builds comb, Carries food, Undertaker duties
    18-21 days - Guards the hive entrance
    22+ days - Flying from hive begins, Pollinates plants, Collects pollen, nectar and water.
  • An average hive can expect to produce around 25lb (11kg) of honey per season. 

Bee behaviour

  • Bees can forage approximatley 5 miles from their hive but generally source pollen within a mile of their hive.
  • Bees will only sting to protect the colony and/or when threatened.
  • Only the queen and female workers can sting.
  • Bees do not sleep but are motionless as they reserve their energies for the next working day.
  • When exiting their hive, honey bees will fly up vertically at high speed and over any obstacles in its flight path.
  • Bees fly around 55, 000 miles for 1lb of honey produced

Swarming

  • Swarming is the natural way that honey bees reproduce.
  • It occurs when there is a new queen bee - the queen and flying bees leave their hive to find a new resting place.
  • A bee swarm can rest in unusual places, if you see a resting swarm do not approach and contact a local beekeeping society.

Bees in decline

In recent years, bee numbers in general have suggested to be in decline compared to past years. As a result, bees have become a popular point of concern and hot topic heightened by the media, therefore, there is a real need to increase and preserve bee numbers to avoid any disastrous outcomes. If numbers continue to decline then we could face food security shortages as bees are essential transporters of pollen from one plant to another to allow fruits and seeds to set. Research indicates that honey bees are providing only a quarter of pollination that is required in the UK. http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/jan/08/uk-food-security-honeybees

Several factors have been indentified for the decline but for honey bees some are listed below:

  • Varrora mites
  • Diseases
  • Neglect
  • Pesticides such as insecticides. As a result of their harming nature, in April 2014 the European Commission restricted the use of pesticides containing imidacloprid and thiamethoxam.

In order to help numbers in the future, suggestions are to:

  • Become a beekeeper
  • Provide nests for solitary bees
  • Provide nests for bumblebees i.e. bumblebee nest boxes
  • Plant more bee-friendly flowers 
  • Use minimal pesticides

To encourge more bees to your garden:

 More information on bee decline can be found at:

Get involved...

Interested in becoming part of Swansea University's bee-keeping society?

More information to follow soon. Keep checking back for more details.