Projekt ETH Campusbienen

ETH Campus Bees: The teaching apiary at the ETH Zurich Hönggerberg campus

Started in March 2022, the Department of Biology developed the teaching apiary in order to give interested students the opportunity to learn modern beekeeping theory and directly implement their knowledge in practice on-site at the Hönggerberg campus.
Sustainably maintained and operated by a small group of self-dependent students, the teaching apiary complements the current biology curriculum and provides a platform for demonstrations to classes and community teachers.

This movie shows the time lapse of brood development and hatching of adult bees on a brood comb. The comb was placed into the honey room above a queen excluder, and pictures were taken at 12-hour intervals.

Film produced by Prof. Rudolf Glockshuber and Dr. Dawid Zyla

The campus apiary is a joint project of the Department of Biology and the Union of Biology Students at ETH Zurich (VeBiS). The project is supported by Green Space Management Hönggerberg GH.

Currently, a core team of around 15 students is taking care of the apiary, which developed from 5 small colonies in March 2022 into full-fledged colonies leading to the harvest of 67 kg of the very first ETH Campus Honey at the end of May. As a period of very low honey flow followed, the second planned honey harvest had to be cancelled.

In addition, the students bred their own queens from their best-performing colonies so that the apiary now consists of 11 colonies (as of November 2022). All colonies were prepared for hibernation by feeding with sugar syrup and treatment with organic acids to minimize Varroa mite infestation. In December 2022, the colonies will be treated one more time with oxalic acid against the varroa mite.

Students’ goal is to learn all the necessary steps of modern beekeeping, from queen rearing to the creation of new colonies, by the end of 2022. Subsequently, these students will pass on their theoretical and practical knowledge to the next generation of students in order to maintain the apiary throughout the years.

Funding for the teaching apiary comes from the sale of our very own ETH Campus Honey.

ETH Campus Honey from 26. Mai 2022: Analysis by QSI GmbH, Bremen, Germany

Water content: 15.6% (CH and EU requirement: less than 20%)
Hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF): 1.9 mg/kg (CH and EU requirements: no more than 40 mg/kg)
Diastase (amylase) content: 33,1 “Schade” Units (CH and EU requirements: above 8 “Schade” units)
Acid content: 14.0 milliequivalents/kg (CH and EU requirements: no more than 50 milliequivalents/kg)

Which plants did our campus bees visit?

To find out which plants our bees visited during their search for nectar and pollen, we extracted all proteins contained in our campus honey and subjected them to “shotgun-sequencing” at the Functional Genomics Center Zurich. This method involves fragmentation of the proteins by the protease trypsin and identification of the fragments by mass spectrometry.

The following list shows a selection of identified forage plants:

  • Sweet cherry (Prunus avium)
  • Maple (Acer yangbiense)
  • Rapeseed (Brassica campestris & napus)
  • Wild cabbage (Brassica oleracea var oleracea)
  • Apple (Malus domestica)
  • Pear (Pyrus communis)
  • Clementine (Citrus clementina)
  • Bitter vine (Mikania micrantha)
  • Cherry (Prunus yedoensis var nudiflora)
  • Mostuea (Mostuea brunonis)
  • Opium poppy (Papaver somniferum)
  • Aquilegia / columbine (Aquilegia coerulea)
  • Lopseed (Erythranthe guttata)
  • Annual mugwort (Artemisia annua)
  • China rose (Rosa chinensis)
  • Artichoke (Cynara cardunculus var scolymus)
  • Pennycress (Noccaea caerulescens)
  • Grapevine (Vitis vinifera)
  • Dove-tree (Davidia involucrata)
  • Thunder duke vine (Tripterygium wilfordii)

Beekeeping Concept


If you are interested in the work of the bee committee, please contact us via campusbienen[at]biol[punkt]