Where has the time gone?

emma-blog

My internship is now coming to a close and I have to say I really have enjoyed the whole year! However the two highlights that I will remember the most will be firstly, putting the beehives on the Laidlaw library roof and secondly the sustainability awards ceremony.

I am pleased to have studied and worked at this University where urban biodiversity is continually growing and adapting. The introduction of the bees on the green roof is amazing, I’m happy to have been involved in the hive checks and organising the bee lectures. I do hope in the future I will have my own hives!

IMG_0042

Well the awards… I feel very proud to have organised and seen the outcome of this event. Everything, from the fantastic table decorations to the food fell into place perfectly on the night. I don’t think I could have asked for a smoother running of an event. It was lovely to be able to celebrate everyone’s successes over the past year.

My internship has not only prepared me for the working world but has also allowed me to develop and gain transferable skills. I would like to say thanks to the sustainability team for all their support and help through this year, I couldn’t have got where I am now without it. I’m excited to start the next chapter of my life and am moving to Manchester to start my career with an environmental consultancy!

My final blog!

xavier-blog

It’s hard to believe that my 11 month placement is finally up – it has been a great experience working with the Sustainability Service. Although I am sad to leave, I am also looking forward to my final year of Geography BSc. I never thought I’d say this, but I am actually excited to learn again! This year has given me some valuable experience working in a professional environment within a large institution that should benefit me in the future.

It’s hard to pick my ‘highlight of the year’ as there have been so many great opportunities. One thing I have particularly enjoyed is helping to arrange the monthly Coffee Breaks. These have been opportunities for me to explore my creative arts and crafts side that I hadn’t touched since school! The past two have had a great turnout, and have been fun for everyone taking part, myself included! During the first interactive session we showed attendees how to recycle plastic bottles into flower pots.

IMG_0102

In the next session, we showed people how to make bug hotels to take home and put in their gardens. This Friday (31st July), we have a wildflower meadow management activity planned to remove prolific plant species from the wildflower meadow to the left of SOEE entrance/behind the Students’ Union. The plan is to continue the interactive element of these sessions and also link them with the different aspects of campus biodiversity, such as the bees. We have a honey tasting session planned for the future, so please keep an eye on our social media pages or email sustainability@leeds.ac.uk to be added to our mailing list to find out about future events!

Doing a placement at the University has allowed me to stay in the loop and continue to work in a familiar location, whilst also giving me the opportunity to explore new areas. All in all, it’s been a rewarding 11 months working with a great team. I’d highly recommend working with them if the opportunity comes around!

Climate Hubs Update

isabel-blog

It’s a really exciting time at the moment with Climate Hubs! We have just started holding our monthly ‘Climate Cafés’, a lunchtime series leading up to the COP21 talks this December. The Cafés hold informal talks over tea and cake on current climate change issues, and is also an opportunity for members to get involved and hear progress on our carbon-reduction projects across campus.

Guest speaker to the first café on 10th June was Carbon Neutral Sheffield, a working group at the University of Sheffield aiming to persuade their University to become carbon neutral by 2025. The rationale behind their pledge was a powerful one: that UK higher education carbon targets are not in line with what climate science indicates is needed, and that Universities that are leading in climate science research need to lead the way in their operations too. It’s a message that we as Climate Hubs strongly agree with!

climate cafe

The second Climate Café was on 8th July, where Paul Chatterton, Kate Lock, and Harriet Thew spoke along the theme of campaigning and lobbying. Key ideas to take from the talks were how you can engage both with your MP and the international climate talks.

Each café also gives members an update on the five main climate hubs projects we are currently working on. These are;

  • Setting up a University solar co-operative that staff and students own, and that generates renewable electricity to campus
  • Reducing the impact of University travel through off-setting carbon emissions
  • Campaigning and lobbying on current climate change issues
  • Analysing staff and student behaviour to energy reduction ‘prompts’
  • Investing and identifying opportunities for energy-efficient equipment

As well as this, some really great suggestions were put forward by members on future carbon reduction projects which we will consider as part of Climate Hubs!

If you are interested in getting involved in these projects, or just keeping up-to-date with their progress, please email us on sustainability@leeds.ac.uk . As ever, we welcome all to sign up and search for our ‘Climate Change Hubs’ page on Yammer (https://www.yammer.com/leeds.ac.uk/). Any questions, queries or ideas, please let us know!

Campus Bee Diary 15/7/2015

Pre Carbo – School of Earth and Environment

Highlights for this month

  • Mike gets stung
  • We lose a swarm
  • We gain a swarm

A swarm in May is worth a bale of hay
A swarm in June is worth a silver spoon
But a swarm in July ain’t worth a fly!

This old saying is often repeated by old beekeepers, and means that if you catch a swarm in July it’s too late for them to build up lots of honey stores for the beekeeper to steal in autumn. But a decent size swarm caught in July will probably build up enough stores to survive the winter and may be next year’s star honey producers. There was some activity around swarms on campus recently. Read on to find out more….

Swarm prevention
Much of beekeeping is about swarm prevention. In the wild, swarms are the natural way for honey bees to procreate, and also a good way for them to control disease and parasites. So why prevent bees from swarming? In the city, feral bees often make their home in unsuitable places like someone’s chimney. Also, we don’t want to lose half the bees from a colony and therefore the potential for a honey harvest, nor do we want a swarm on campus. Swarms are not aggressive, but people are alarmed by them and we have to rush out to deal with it! Carlos collected two swarms last week, so we went to check the hives with trepidation – were they our bees?

Laidlaw Library Roof Apiary
Mike got his first sting this week! He says: ‘Bit of a shock, and I did a bit of a sting dance (a bit like a waggle dance, but less organised) completely my own fault though – it got behind my foot in my boot and got squished so completely justified stinging.’

IMG_0043 edit

Laidlaw 1 (new name suggestion ‘Son of Sticky’)
This colony has been making swarm preparations, evident in the creation of queen cells. A swarm has been prevented so far by destroying the queen cells, as the swarming bees won’t leave the hive until a batch of infant queens (pupae) are safely capped off in their cells to ensure a new queen will take over the old colony. There are other, more elegant ways to prevent a swarm, but this is a last resort in the absence of other options. If the colony remains intact there may be some honey to harvest in late summer.

Laidlaw 2 (a rather lively swarm caught on campus in May – name suggestions?)
This colony has successfully replaced (superceded) their old queen. We found the new queen and she looks healthy, but may not have been on her mating flight yet. We found evidence of the other queen cells (occupants now dead, thanks to the new queen). We’re unlikely to get any honey from this hive this year as they will need what they create now for their winter stores.

Sustainability Action Group Apiary (SAG, Earth and Environment)
Sticky Hive
A common method of swarm control is to move the old queen to a new hive or nuc with plenty of bees, leaving the remaining queenless colony to raise a new queen. The urge to swarm is removed, as the split colonies have more space and fewer bees. That’s the theory…

The Sticky queen was moved to a nuc two weeks ago with her entourage. Last week the remaining queenless colony was very agitated, and raising queen cells, so we left them alone expecting a happy colony plus new queen this week. We didn’t expect them to swarm in the absence of the queen and with fewer bees, so didn’t take the precaution of removing all but one of the queen cells – schoolgirl error. At the next check it was clear that they had swarmed! The colony was much depleted, and at least three queens had emerged (empty queen cells with a neatly cut out lid) and several unhatched queens had been destroyed while still in their cells (a hole chewed through the side of the cell, the occupants will have been stung to death by their sister queen). In addition, an intact queen cell remained. There was no sign of a new queen at large in the hive, so we left the remaining queen cell. We might have missed the new queen, or she may have been on her mating flight. If there is more than one new queen, the stronger will kill the weaker one.

So it’s possible that both the swarms caught by Carlos were headed by a daughter of the Sticky queen. The first swarm is now housed in the SAG apiary and the queen is already laying eggs in newly drawn comb. The second was probably a ‘cast’, or secondary swarm, as it was much smaller, and is at another apiary.

Reuse – The system that keeps on giving!

By Cathy Harrison – Central IT

I’ve been using the Reuse facility since it was originally set up and it has proved an invaluable method of sourcing office furniture and storage items, resulting in a significant saving in office expenditure. The two main meeting rooms in my department are furnished with complete sets of tables and chairs obtained from Reuse.

The main items of office furniture I am asked to request are desks, chairs and drawers units; I am almost always able to source the items I require from the Reuse facility. Especially useful are the invitations to office clearances, from which a huge variety of furniture and other items can be obtained.

Recently, I needed two pedestal desk-high drawers units and five standard wheeled office chairs. Purchase price for new items would have been just over £1,000. I was able to obtain the drawers and chairs from the Faculty of Engineering and have the items delivered by Faculty warehouse staff, with no expenditure required whatsoever.

In the current financial climate, when University departments are looking to reduce expenditure as much as possible, the Reuse facility is a vital resource in making this possible.