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Could universities help to save our bees?

By Sarah Thomas

Wednesday 5 November 2014 Student journalists

The decline in the number of honey bees has been in the news for some time and, at first glance it may not seem important. As students, NUS Journalist Sarah Thomas asks 'how does a decline in the number of bees affect us?'

Well, one of the main ways is through the pollination of crops, the human race is heavily reliant on bees to pollinate our food and their slow decline means less food for us. With a growing population this is a major problem.

Scientists believe that the main factor in the decline in the number of bees is the growth of our cities; the more we build the more we encroach on their environment. All is not lost though, according to Barry Gibb who wrote for the Guardian a month ago - cities are not completely disastrous for bees if we humans can help them.

Cities are naturally warmer than rural areas and thanks to inner city nature reserves, gardens, allotments, parks and even cemeteries a wide range of flora and fauna is provided for bees. So what can we do to encourage more bees in our cities?

Ever heard of a bee hotel? Neither had I until I read Gibb’s article, a bee hotel is simply a wooden box filled with bamboo stems or cardboard tubes providing shelter for bees and is preferably placed somewhere in your garden. It’s a simple addition to a city garden which hopefully makes a difference to our bee population.

But you don’t have to do it alone. Roehampton University Students’ Union has launched a campus café using only produce they’ve grown themselves including honey, proving in the process that bees can in fact be kept in the middle of a city and we can boost dwindling bee numbers. To make a real difference more people should get involved, you might even get a jar of honey out of it.

My name is Sarah Thomas and I am currently in my third year at Keele University studying History and English. As well as completing my degree and writing for NUS, I also read, sew, knit, bake and dance salsa. My interest in sustainable living and environmental issues really developed when I undertook a History module focusing on the developing thought of the environment and mankind’s impact on it over the course of the past two hundred years. This was an eye opening experience and made me evaluate the impact that my own actions have on the environment around me and how I could live more sustainably.

It is this passion that I have for environmental issues that meant that writing under the ‘sustainable students’ theme is perfect for me. I took the opportunity to write for NUS because as a national organisation, it really makes a difference to students’ lives up and down the country. As environmental issues are a problem that our generation will have to deal with, both in the present and the future, this is the perfect opportunity to provide a student perspective on one of the biggest challenges that we face in society today.