Bee hotels for Antwerp University

Antwerp University's Environment Department is setting up three new 'bee hotels' on the Drie Eiken and Groenenborger campuses. The beehives are needed to increase biodiversity at Antwerp University.

Bees have been in the news for all the wrong reasons: populations are falling due to fewer green spaces, all kinds of diseases and the use of pesticides.

Antwerp University is keen to buck the trend and has purchased three readymade bee hotels from the environmentalists at Natuurpunt. The bee hives come in packs that look like they could have arrived from Ikea.

Carla Uwents, who is co-ordinator for sustainability at Antwerp University: "Our students will set up the bee hotels as part of their training."

The impact of the initiative is expected to be significant. Carla Uwents: "Bees pollinate thousands of flowers, plants and fruit trees in their vicinity. In this way we are helping to build a valuable natural zone."

The bee hotels are made of loam, reeds and holed wood, ideal nesting material for mason bees, leafcutter bees and banksia bees. The boxes contain corridors in which the bees can easily lay their eggs that will hatch in May.

A busy area like a university location may not seem like the ideal place for bee hives, but students should not worry. Carla Uwents insists that these hives won't attract honey bees but solitary, wild bees that do not sting: "They do not live in a colony and have no need to defend themselves."