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Let it bee: apiculture as a student

When faced with the difficult choice of where to spend your precious free time, looking after a hive of fuzzy critters may not leap out as the obvious choice. However, it is a worthy one – as whether they are being entranced by that lovely yellow coat or want to save the planet one bee at a time, students across the country are becoming endeared to the bee keeping life.

Studying at Sussex, you’ve probably heard something by now on the link between bees and environmental sustainability – think the pollen cycle’s importance in photosynthesis and ecosystems. Yet there is more to it – being surrounded by nature through the changing systems, and working with fascinating people, while caring for living creatures and the environment around, can all only have wonderful effects of mental health. Many have already linked this particularly waxy hobby to lifting temperaments, even more so than just the rewarding feeling of spending time on something you love. You could even go so far to say it is therefore the queen of hobbies.

Bee keeping does however take a certain level of commitment – most universities that run programs or societies include weeks of theory. It’s more complicated than one might think as the bees should be handled with care to avoid damaging their ecosystem and home. However it’s all worth it.

‘I was nervous at first, but easily got over it as there’s a very low chance of getting stung, and everyone was very friendly,’ Holly, a student beekeeper enthused. ‘But it’s so interesting and offers a relaxing way to escape the stress of your course, while discovering the unique symbiotic nature of the relationship between you and the bees.’

‘It’s a great experience as you get to learn so much – for example the bee attack pheromone smells like bananas. Probably best not to eat a banana near the hive just to be safe. Anyway, it’s just exciting that so many green projects are accessible to students – I think it’s because the younger generation realises sustainability is important since we’ll have to deal with it.’ The student also conjectured that in a fight between a European badger and bees, the victor would be entirely dependent on the amount of bees.

In general, student sustainability projects deserve greater promotion and funding, and successful models such as this should be shared faster between universities.

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