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    University Staff create a buzz at Beekeeping Convention

    19 April 2024

    A historic gathering of the British Beekeeper’s Association has been held at Harper Adams – with University staff right at the heart of the buzz. 

    The Spring Convention marked 150 years of the Association, which was founded in 1874, and saw Lord Lieutenant of Shropshire, Anna Turner, plant a tree in the Harper Adams Orchard alongside key members of the Association and University Vice-Chancellor Professor Ken Sloan to mark the anniversary.  

    University staff help beekeeping convention go with a buzz


    While planting the trees, she spoke of how the King and Queen were keen apiarists and always took a keen interest in everything to do with bees. 

    Meanwhile, across the convention itself, Harper Adams employees were playing diverse roles. 



    Lecturer in Entomology Dr Ben Clunie, Reader in Entomology Dr Tom Pope, Lecturer in IPM Dr Joe Roberts and Senior Lecturer in Entomology Dr Simon Segar presented Introduction to Entomology, a new initiative for this year’s convention, and Principal Lecturer John Reade delivered both a seminar and a practical session on botany. All sessions were very well attended and very well received by delegates. 


    Dr Reade said: “It is superb that we can continue and expand our offering of sessions for the BBKA Spring Convention. 

    “We hope that we can further grow these collaborations, and that BBKA members can be invited to contribute to our undergraduate and postgraduate provision too. As Harper Adams moves forward with plans for its apiary, we hope to have more original research to present at future conventions too.”  

    In the Harper Adams Laboratories, University Technicians once again offered delegates the chance to see both bees and pollen in new ways – drawing on the power of the University’s Electron Microscope.  

    University staff help beekeeping convention go with a buzz

    Harper Adams experts produce un-bee-lievable results for BBKA Spring Convention

    Teaching Assistants Richard Page and Thomas Leigh worked with delegates to prepare samples of both bees and pollen before placing each in the Scanning Electron Microscope – offering hands-on opportunities to use some advanced equipment to gain unique insights into the morphology of both. 

    Dr Victoria Talbot, Laboratory Manager at Harper Adams said: “Once again it has been a pleasure to welcome back the BBKA and offer delegates the opportunity to learn about scanning electron microscopy from our highly skilled technical staff.  

    “Delegates gain a unique, hands-on experience of high magnification microscopy. They are shown how to prepare and sputter-coat (coat in gold) their own specimens, then they are enabled to use the SEM themselves and examine their specimens at up to x3,000 magnification. The details which can “bee” seen are amazing!


    "Delegates then capture and download images of what they can see - these are known as “electron micrographs” - to take home. The SEM workshops are a key feature of the convention and something which few people would typically have the opportunity to participate in. We are very proud to be able to offer this.” 

    University staff help beekeeping convention go with a buzz

    Finally, in the industry- standard Food Academy kitchens, Senior Lecturer Rachel Hilton and Lecturer in Food Business and Enterprise Zoe Harrison presented a Buzzing Bites workshop – helping delegates prepare tasty treats with honey at their heart. 

    Participants got the chance to make honey gelato, sweet or savoury focaccia, and infused honeys with chocolate, fruits or even chilli – and to take away their finished products to enjoy later. 

    Rachel said: "This was the first time we hosted a workshop with the Beekeepers and what a blast we had! 

    “Working with the raw, unprocessed honey made each dish a real celebration of our collective appreciation of the remarkable contribution of bees. 

    “We definitely finished the day buzzing and we are already looking forward to next year!"

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