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Standard Life Aberdeen has become part of the Square Metre for Butterflies project by creating new habitat for pollinators on the roof of their data centre in Edinburgh. This guest blog by Jackie Swartz-Byrne explains their involvement. 

Other than those aeronautical curiosities, Bumblebees, I hardly ever see bees, even in the countryside, which is a bit worrying.

Standard Life Aberdeen logo

But since being asked to write this blog about Standard Life Aberdeen’s new bee colony, they’re suddenly cropping up everywhere (no pun intended). Like the two I found trapped in my conservatory the other day. They were not for leaving but luckily my husband managed to coax them back into the wild. Or the 22 who were all over the news a few days later, being painted at various sites in Manchester to commemorate the first anniversary of the Manchester Arena bombing. These bee murals have come to symbolise the city’s resilience and unity and to represent Manchester’s indomitable spirit following the attack on May 22, 2017.

Although the worker bee became a symbol of unity and defiance in the wake of the attack, the bee symbol is actually also a part of Manchester’s coat of arms because, in the 1800s Manchester was awash with textile mills that were commonly described as ‘hives of activity’ and the workers inside them were compared to bees. Although, to be precise, worker honeybees are actually female and do all the work and male honeybees do no work at all. All they do is mate, and in fact, before winter – or when food becomes scarce – female honeybees usually force them out of the nest. Before becoming estranged, however, honey bees communicate with one another by dancing.

Unfortunately the bee population is in decline, possibly because of the loss of flower meadows, parasites which feed on them, climate change and pesticides. This could lead to the loss of all the plants that bees pollinate, all the animals that eat those plants and so on up the food chain. Which means a world without bees could struggle to sustain the global human population.

In recognition of the contribution bees make and to help reverse their decline, Standard Life Aberdeen has paid for two hives to be installed on the roof of the Data Centre in Glenogle Road and signed up to the Edinburgh Pollinator Pledge.

SLA team planting a heather garden, image by Standard Life Aberdeen
SLA team planting a heather garden © Standard Life Aberdeen

To prepare for their arrival, building manager Jill Gibb offered to plant heathers on the roof but this proved to be very expensive. Fortunately she mentioned the project to colleague Robert Knox of Mitie, the contractors who support the facilities team. Mitie offered to help and planted the heathers in their own time and at their own expense.

The bees arrive from Northern Italy at the end of the month and will be tended by beekeeper Brian Poole, who will maintain the hives.

by Jackie Swartz-Byrne

Jackie Swartz-Bryne, Standard Life Aberdeen Bee blogger, image by Standard Life Aberdeen
Jackie Swartz-Byrne, © Standard Life Aberdeen

Jakob Assarsson