Cambridge University gardener brings back bees

Honeybees have been reintroduced to the gardens of Newnham College for the first time since the Second World War.

Lottie Collis, head gardener at the women’s college in Cambridge, bought a nucleus of bees after a donation was received by the College by The Guild of Friends, an alumnae group.

She trained as a beekeeper more than 10 years ago and as she is a member the Cambridgeshire Beekeepers’ Association (CBKA).

Collis joined the women’s college as head gardener in January and decided to bring back bees for the first time since the Second World War.

She said: "Bees pollinate everything and unfortunately they are in decline. As they are such a vital part of our eco-system, I thought it was important that we brought a colony back to Newnham College."

The new beehive is located in a wild section of the garden of the principal, Professor Dame Carol Black, and it is now home to thousands of Apis mellifera European honeybees.

Collis manages a team of five gardeners, who she is now hoping to help train to become beekeepers too.

She said: "They are all really interested and it is a great skill to have. Everyone should consider keeping bees in their gardens if they can; the CBKA runs courses for people interested in becoming beekeepers."

The first batch of honey from the new beehive was enjoyed by staff and Fellows at a recent summer garden party at the College.

She said: "The bees pollinated the flowers on the crops of beans, apples and plums and gave us a bumper yield."

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