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Biology students create a buzz in Salford school

27 Mar 2009

Science students from The University of Manchester have taken their ‘Save our Bees' campaign to children at St Philip's Church of England Primary School in Salford.

Julia Robinson works with children from St Philip's School
Julia Robinson works with children from St Philip's School

The eight Biology undergraduates from the University’s Faculty of Life Sciences are on a mission to raise awareness of the declining honey bees in the UK. Honey bees are important for the successful growth of many crops that we rely on for food, such as fruits, vegetables and nuts. It is estimated that one third of everything we eat has been pollinated by bees. However honey bees are currently facing a crisis, the British bee population has declined at an alarming rate over the last few years, over 30% since 2007. The cause for this is still unclear, although it is likely that the increase in wet weather and the spread of disease-causing parasites such as the varroa mite are partly to blame.

“It is vital that we protect our honey bees,” explained student Keith McDowell. “The bees are dying out and we don't know why. We must all do our bit to help protect the bees as they are incredibly important to our agricultural economy”

During the school visit, the students gave a short presentation to 25 year 1 and 2 children about the importance of protecting honey bees and taught them about the honey bee's life cycle. They also planted seeds in the school gardens to encourage the local bees to visit. Finally, the children enjoyed a snack of bread and honey - which was a new taste for some of them!

The students will visit St Philip's again when it holds its dedicated ECO week in June. St Philip’s is working towards obtaining their Silver in ECO school status – an international award programme that guides schools towards sustainability and provides a framework to help embed these principles into the heart of school life.

“Environmental protection is a subject that's close to our hearts at St Philips,” said head teacher Hazel Brady. “The children really enjoyed the students' visit and I would welcome the team to the school again.”

The students’ local crusade is part of the national Save Our Bees campaign (see http://www.saveourbees.org.uk/index.asp). They have set up a Facebook group called 'Save the Honey Bees' for anyone to join http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=60201901490 and have produced posters that will be displayed around Manchester.

Notes for editors

Pictures of the students and schoolchildren at work during the visit are available.

For copies, more information or to interview student Sally Polson or Biology tutor Dr Simon Whelan contact Media relations Officer Mikaela Sitford on 07768 980942 or Mikaela.Sitford@manchester.ac.uk.