| Katarzyna Juszkiewicz |
On 8 August, the Great Bee Day is celebrated in Poland every year. This is a good moment to appreciate the role these insects play in our ecosystem, and assess the threats they face. Bees have been living on the roof of the Faculty of Law and Administration of the University of Silesia for four years. The entire project is carried out by, among others Mirosław Nakonieczny, PhD, DSc, Associate Professor from the Institute of Biology, Biotechnology and Environmental Protection.
Together with the scientists from the Faculty of Natural Sciences: Agata Nicewicz, PhD, and Łukasz Nicewicz, MSc, he conducts research on the activities of honey bees in cities. “Due to the fact that the university apiary is located in a polluted urban environment, both honey and bee pollen have been tested for the presence of lead, cadmium, and micronutrients: zinc and copper. It turns out that for several years the city bee has been doing great at cleaning the product” explains Prof. M. Nakonieczny.
City honey is tasty and healthy also because city bees do not have to deal with spraying in cities. The university insects deal with a wide variety of plants that people plant in parks and gardens. Their diversity means that the taste of the produced honey is often a great surprise. As prof. Mirosław Nakonieczny explains, the product from the hives on the roof of the faculty is mainly acacia honey with the addition of… catnip.
We also have to keep in mind that bees play a major role in producing more than one-third of the food in the world. Without them, most types of vegetables and fruits, so important for us, would be missing. Without pollinators, at least 71 out of 100 different plants 90% of which is the source of our food, would become extinct in Europe.
To take care of bees, the University of Silesia joined forces with Śląski Związek Pszczelarzy (the Silesian Beekeepers Association in Katowice). “The result was the joint organisation of the International Beekeeping Congress in March 2020 in Cieszyn. It was combined with an exhibition of equipment for beekeepers” reminds prof. M. Nakonieczny. “The event resulted in establishing cooperation between the most important research centers in Poland in order to publish a scientific monograph on beekeeping at the University of Silesia Press.
Employees of the University of Silesia with the apiaries | photo: Julia Agnieszka Szymala
The university bees live on the roof of the Faculty of Law and Administration | photo: Julia Agnieszka Szymala
As part of the “Freedom of Research” competition organised under the Research Excellence Initiative, Agata Nicewicz, PhD from the Faculty of Natural Sciences has conducted research aimed at assessing the effectiveness of the methods of combating the bee parasite V. destructor used in Poland. The research results were described in an article „Na wojnę z pszczelim dręczycielem” (“The war with bees’ enemy”).
photo: Julia Agnieszka Szymala