Bees and blooms

Close up of flower with bee and words bees blooms and biodiversity

Bristol is buzzing and so is the University, where our research into urban pollinators directly impacts the life you see on campus.

Ecology and environmental change is one of four main themes of research within the School of Biological Sciences and is part of the work of the Cabot Institute. A particular focus of our research looks at how to make our increasingly urban landscape more pollinator friendly

The Bristol Urban Pollinators Project was one such project. In the first city-wide study of its kind, researchers created and monitored new planting schemes across Bristol to attract native pollinating insects. The three-year study led to a series of recommendations for policymakers and building developers.

Gardens are powerhouse nectar producers

A recent University of Bristol study into how much nectar is produced in urban areas found that gardens were by far the greatest source, accounting for 85 per cent. Three gardens produce, on average, a teaspoon of nectar per day – enough to fuel thousands of bees.

Gardens cover up to 29 per cent of urban land and offer a greater variety of species than in farmland and nature reserves. Pollinators such as bees, butterflies, beetles and wasps are important for biodiversity, so making room for gardens on new housing developments and even planting window boxes could be vital for pollinator conservation. Read more about our pioneering research into quantifying nectar production.

Our living campus

Sustainability is an important consideration within our campus environment and wider estate. All of our new buildings are designed with the environment in mind and include features such as solar panels, natural ventilation systems and green roofs.

The Life Sciences Building, which was opened by Sir David Attenborough in 2014, is instantly recognisable for its living wall. At 12 metres tall, the wall contains more than 6,700 plants, and bat and bird roosts. Find out more about our living buildings. ‌

The University won a Bees' Needs Champion Award for the contribution of our meadows to pollinating insects. Royal Fort Gardens, at the heart of the Clifton campus, includes a wildflower meadow, planted as part of the My Wild University project to boost the number of pollinators. The garden holds a green flag award, which recognises it as one of the best green spaces in the country.

close up of wildflower meadow with the HH Wills Physics Building in background

The University estate of 1,000 acres extends well beyond our main campus. It includes two farms and spaces covering four habitat types, which we manage proactively to improve biodiversity, as well as conducting annual surveys of indicator species, including sparrows, amphibians and hedgehogs.

Hedgehog friendly campus

Those hedgehogs preferring to stay closer to the action are welcome on our campus. The University is a Hedgehog Friendly Campus and part of a national accreditation scheme funded by the British Hedgehog Preservation Society. A working group, including members from Bristol SU, the Life Sciences Building and the External Estates team, works to raise awareness and has installed hedgehog houses and feeding stations across the University estate. 

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If you're interested in biology, the environment or policy, you may be interested in studying:

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