STUDENTS are living alongside 30,000 bees to reduce the carbon footprint of their halls of residence.
The scheme introduced by Edinburgh University is part of a new programme where two hives will act as a haven for the bees and the uni can sell off the honey.
In the height of summer the number of insects is expected to rocket to a massive 100,000.
The project at Pollock Halls has been welcomed by residents, staff and the 2,000 students who live there but there are niggling concerns that student “high-jinks” could lead to problems.
Accommodation manager Sandra Kinnear, who heads the project, said: “We’ve had quite a lot of construction work on the site in the past few years and we have probably lost some of the wildlife that was here, so we have put up some bird boxes and the bees are another part of that.
“We probably won’t have enough [honey] for it to be fully commercial but we might have a few jars on sale in reception for our summer vacation visitors.
“We have catering facilities here so we could make honey cookies and we could use beeswax to make candles and gifts.”
The hive will also be used for teaching students more about the biology of bees and how to look after them.
It was also pointed out that the bees kept at the student digs are an especially docile species from Italy.
Ms Kinnear added: “Some people said that if there were high jinks and something happened we could be in trouble, even though we have gone through all our health and safety and risk assessment.
“Health and safety is crucial to us – we don’t want people and getting hurt.
“But the site has so many trees and flowers that honey bees would flock here anyway because it’s full of food for them.”
The hives will be kept in a secure enclosure with a high fence and a padlocked gate.
There will also be warning signs alerting people not to go in unless they are wearing protective clothing and there will also be CCTV monitoring the site.
The expert beekeeper hand-selected by Edinburgh University to look after the beasties is Matilda Bell from West Linton in West Lothian.
She said the new scheme will not only benefit the university but help the insects themselves as it may help keep them from infections and diseases.
Mrs Bell said: “If we don’t manage them properly then we won’t have any bees at all.
“We could lose a third of our crops if we don’t have any pollinating insects.
“If even one person goes on to have a hive in their garden I would be delighted.”