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Harwell Campus Community Update

Harwell Campus Community Update

During the quieter months here at Harwell Campus there has literally been a buzz of activity across the site and this is an opportunity to share what’s going on inside the community.

Several interesting projects have focused on campus biodiversity, a theme that is very important to us. The beehives have done exceptionally well during their first season, with the colony flourishing under Queen ‘Elizabeth’, and her family of bees have grown from a 5-frame nuc (partial colony) to an 11-frame hive. During peak season there will be approximately 80,000 bees in one hive and over the winter months, although their activity will be greatly reduced, keep an eye out on clear dry days as you may see them visiting the winter flowering plants. They have been busy working over the summer season and have built up ample food stores to see them through the colder months. Bees cluster together to keep warm, taking turns on the outside with their Queen in the middle, much like a penguin huddle. We are incredibly excited to see what honey they will produce, ready to be gathered, spun and sampled next spring.

To encourage more insects onto campus and provide them with some protection, Exterior Architecture has designed and built two ‘Harwell Insect Hotels’, using locally sourced timber, including silver birch and beech. Located each side of the HQ building, these provide a habitat for a range of wildlife such as solitary bees and wasps, butterflies, and ladybirds. Herbaceous planting, as part of wider landscaping scheme, have been located on either side of the HQ building, providing not only colour, but food and shelter for wildlife, especially in spring when the campus bees return in full force.  

This year it has become particularly important to promote physical and mental wellbeing. The campus has run 3 sets of free online yoga sessions to inspire people to grab their mats, keep fit, flexible and also take some ‘me’ time over a lunch break. Run by, they have been a huge hit with over 100 registered participants and another 65 about to take up the final places on the last course of the year. Free yoga places are still available and the course of 5 sessions commences on Tuesday 3rd November. Click here to book your place.

The Fitness Experts, located at the gym next to Quad One and Pierreponts cafĂ©, quickly embraced the changes that the pandemic threw at them, adapting their business into ‘The Fitness Experts Digital – From the Studio to Your Home’. Each day they ran a live ‘Bootcamp of the Day’ session on-line, so their members could continue to keep active and connected, boosting their energy and keeping negativity at bay. They wanted to keep things looking and feeling as familiar as possible to give people a much-needed sense of normality during lockdown and the sessions offered something different to look forward to each day.

Another aspect of wellbeing has been the demand for the two Adult Mental Health First Aid Courses, one of which has been sponsored by Glencar, who are building the Vaccines Manufacturing and Innovation Centre. 16 people are already trained and another 20 are due to start the next course and we are holding a waiting list for a third course, so if you are interested please email A parallel initiative has soft-launched whereby ‘Wellbeing Champions’ will share best practice with each other cross-campus and inside their organisations regarding the importance of physical and mental health and what support is available on and off campus. If this is something you are interested in finding out more about, please contact

HarBug, the Harwell Bicycle Users Group is ever growing, and has issued a newsletter to inform the campus of recent cycling news (downloadable from their website). If you are interested in cycling to work but not quite sure what route to take, HarBug has introduced a weekly ‘Cycle Transit’. This guided cycle runs from Didcot Parkway to Harwell Campus, in support of Oxfordshire’s active travel initiative. These take place on a Wednesday morning, departing from the station at 7.50am and arriving at Harwell Campus at 8.30am. For more information click here.

If you don’t have a bicycle, they are available to hire on campus, from 8 designated hubs. Providing you are a campus occupier, they can be hired for up to 48 hours free of charge and simply need you to register initially, so you can unlock and lock the bikes again. These are also handy if you need to speed across campus to a meeting as you can leave them at a different docking station if you wish. The bicycles are regularly maintained by Bainton Bikes and the Donkey Republic app enables easy  connection to them via mobile phone.

The pandemic has necessitated a major shift from face-to-face events to online alternatives since March this year. Successful virtual events such as the recent virtual tour of Public Health England have proved to be popular, with over 100 people keen to find out more about their work and taking a closer look at some of the laboratories and equipment they use. On November 12th, Connect Harwell is running an online speaker session where Nxt Gen colleagues from the ISIS Neutron and Muon Source will be sharing examples of the work they do and their campus stories. Nxt Gen is ideal for early career professionals, but everyone is welcome.

So far, we have covered terrestrial activity but there are two new interest groups in town who are already looking to attract new members. Quantum@Harwell and the Harwell Rocket Group will be sharing more news about themselves in due course, so if there are any budding rocketry enthusiasts or quantum technologists on campus, please step forward.

One of the best ways to stay in touch with campus activity is to sign up to the weekly newsletter where details of events and activities are shared. To sign up to receive this, please complete the form here. The Harwell Hub and Harwell Campus website are also useful places to find information and updates. During November there will be a campus update to share more details about what’s happening at the moment, including developments you will see being completed and we will let you know as soon as a date has been set for this.