Experts link up at University of Sussex “bee summit”

Bee on crocus

Representatives from business, farming and community life will join academics to discuss how to help the British honey bee at a special "bee summit" at the University of Sussex.


More than 50 delegates will have the chance to meet and talk to the 12 research scientists of the Laboratory of Apiculture and Social Insects (LASI) on Wednesday 28 April. The day will feature discussions and activities at What's the Buzz? Bees, Land use and the Community.


Representatives from organisations including some of LASI's donors - Rowse Honey and cosmetics company Burt's Bees - will be at the event.


What's the Buzz?, hosted by LASI and sponsored by the University's Business and Enterprise team, will focus on the decline of honey bees and the impact of this on land use and the community at large.


The gathering will cover topics in education, community, agriculture and land management and will provide ample opportunity for lively debate, networking and for sharing ideas on how to help the honey bee.


Delegates will also be able to:


  • see the bees at foraging and pollinating;
  • observe bee behaviour close up in a special observation hive;
  • find out how scientists are decoding the waggle dance - a special form of communication used by bees to tell co-workers where to fly to find sources of food.


There are about 250 British species of bee and they are an important part of our biodiversity. They are also the most important plant pollinators. Pollination is increasingly recognised as a key 'ecosystem service' and is vital in agriculture, with approximately one third of the human diet coming from bee-pollinated plants.


Bees, however, are under threat, with declines in the numbers of honey bees, bumble bees and other wild bees in Britain and elsewhere.


Professor Francis Ratnieks, who heads LASI, says: "Although bee numbers have not yet reached crisis levels, there is a need to reverse this downward trend. How can this be done?


"One way is to make Britain a more bee-friendly country by mobilising the many people who are in a position to help bees, either indirectly or directly, by their work in education, science, communication, land management, conservation, agriculture, and government."



Notes for Editors


What's the Buzz? takes place on Wednesday 28 April, from 11am to 7pm, in the Brighton and Sussex Medical School on the University of Sussex campus and in LASI.


For more information on LASI, and its work to help the honey bee, see the website


University of Sussex Press office contacts: Maggie Clune, Jacqui Bealing and Danielle Treanor. Tel: 01273 678 888 or email

Last updated: Tuesday, 27 April 2010