Facilities

LASI is housed in the Old Ancillary Building of the School of Life Sciences. This is a particularly convenient location as it is only 50 metres from the main Evolution, Behaviour and Environment hub in the John Maynard Smith Building. A large area (140 m2 ) of this building was initially renovated and since then a further 40 m2 has been added and now provides working space for 17 researchers. This comprises six offices, a tropical ant room, and two general laboratory rooms, all in a self-contained area.

Bee hives in the apiary beside the LASI building

Immediately outside LASI is a garden, an apiary workshop for making bee hives and research equipment (50 m2), and a storage shed for hive equipment (20 m2). Another apiary with a storage shed (20m2) is located within easy walking distance on University land. Two other apiaries in the surrounding countryside have been set up. One of these is located at Plumpton College, ans another at Wakehurst Place, the country garden of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, where facilities have been set up to house observation hives to support the foraging research. The number of bee hives being kept depends on the needs of the research. As of  September 2010 we have 30 regular hives, 25 nucs and 15 mini-nucs which are kept for queen rearing, and 10 observation hives. This number will increase.

Behaviour in an observation bee hive being videotaped and shown live on a TV screen

Because the University of Sussex is based on a campus surrounded by countryside, it is an ideal location for LASI. In addition, the weather in Sussex is as good for studying honey bees as it can be in Britain. LASI also benefits from the University's strength in social-insect biology. Indeed, Sussex has the largest concentration of social-insect researchers in the UK, with five faculty members in the School of Life Sciences working on social insects: Professor Ratnieks, Professor Tom Collett, Professor Jeremy Field, Dr Paul Graham and Professor Jonathan Bacon, a developmental biologist also studying honey bees and ant foraging,