SWANSEA University has introduced beehives to its campuses as part of a project to enhance student and staff wellbeing.
Swansea Employability Academy (SEA) and CampusLife have partnered with Bee1, a Welsh-based company that educates the public on the importance of bees for the environment and our mental health, to create Bee Together.
Developed as part of the University’s commitment to wellbeing and workplace learning, Bee Together allows the community to come together and work on a project rooted in sustainability.
With the help of expert training from Bee1, students and staff are being given the opportunity to learn new skills and build confidence through the maintenance of the University’s very own honeybee colonies.
Student volunteer Charlotte McEwan, a second-year Osteopathy student, said:
“The programme is a wonderful way to be a part of the Swansea University community, feel connected to nature and learn about how amazing our little bees are!
“Having that time to disconnect from my studies and socialise with new people is already helping my wellbeing!”
Finley Watson, a second-year Welsh student, added:
“Engaging with the bees is a relaxing and low-stress responsibility that gives me a reason to meet people and enjoy the Botanical Garden.
“The bees are very mellow, and significantly improve my mental health, while their care acts as a focus around which student peer support networks are forming.”
With the beekeeping expertise of Mark Douglas, Founder of Bee1, 10,000 honeybees have been introduced to each campus, set to increase to 50,000 by next summer.
These new additions will make a great difference to the area, with each hive capable of pollinating 200 million plants, flowers and fruits in Swansea.
On his involvement, Mark said:
“Having worked with several NHS trusts, we have seen the significant impact that working with bees can have on your mental health and wellbeing. We undertook an independent evaluation on staff far exceeding our hopes and expectations.
“Thanks to the support and vision of SEA and Campus Life at Swansea University, we are taking this one step further, with a programme available for both staff and students to benefit from looking after their own Bees.
“Also, as someone who became a university beekeeper during my degree, it also adds real ‘Wow factor’ to any CV.”
Whilst the bees are starting to become less active for Winter, the team at SEA is already looking at ways to expand the project.
Lucy Griffiths, Head of Swansea University Employability Academy (SEA), said:
“We were looking for ways to bring students and staff back together post-pandemic, as well as raising confidence levels to help students re-engage with their employability journeys. Bee1 ticks all these boxes, and the response from students and staff has been more than we could have hoped for.
“We already have dedicated beekeepers, and our next steps for the project are to look for research opportunities with the hives as well as entrepreneurial activity.”