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At Beehive it's all about students

Working together, sharing information, communicating and having the same goals. At the official opening on 30 November, biologist Koos Biesmeijer compared Beehive, Leiden University's new student centre in The Hague, with the activities in a real beehive.

It's always great hearing a researcher talk about what sparked his or her passion for their subject. Biesmeijer, Leiden Professor of Natural Capital and Scientific Director of the Naturalis Biodiversity Center, was fascinated by the busy bees swarming around a beehive. But he really couldn't fathom what was going on. For twenty days - not consecutively! - he just sat watching what these insects were doing. And people can learn a lot from what he observed. 

Koos Biesmeijer compared Beehive with a real beehive
Koos Biesmeijer compared Beehive with a real beehive


Bees in a hive spend all their time working together. They bring nectar, pollen and propolis to the hive. A bee that has found something useful does a little dance back in the hive, from which the other bees can deduce where they need to go to find it. Honey is made from the nectar, and the pollen, which has a high protein content, is food for the larvae. The propolis, a glue-like substance made of plant saps, is used to close holes in the hive. Biesmeijer even showed a photo of a mouse that was completely encapsulated in propolis; bees also protect one another against intruders. 

Erwin Muller
Erwin Muller: more premises in The Hague...

Further expansion

The first speaker at the opening of Beehive was Erwin Muller, dean of  the Faculty of Governance and Global Affairs in The Hague. Muller mentioned that this is the University's fifth building in The Hague, and hinted that there would be more to come. 'Everything we start in The Hague grows fast,' Hester Bijl was to say later. Muller's comment was borne out by alderman of The Hague Saskia Bruines, responsible for Education, the Knowledge Economy and International Affairs. She told the audience that The Hague has grand plans for the area between The Hague's three stations (Central Station, Holland Spoor and Laan van Nieuw Oost-IndiĆ«), where a new district is going to be developed. And Leiden and Delft Universities (Delft is also active on Campus The Hague) will play a definite role. 

Afro Student Organisation. Beehive
After the opening, the audience was given a tour, in small groups. Here they are visiting the Afro Student Organisation.

The Hague always wanted its own university

The Hague welcomed Leiden University with open arms right from day one of the University's presence in the capital city in 1980. Erwin Muller jokingly pointed out that Leiden torpedoed The Hague's plans for its own university in around 1800, but even so the city was delighted when, just two hundred years later, the University established a second, now very flourishing branch in the centre of The Hague. The city is home to thousands of University students and dozens of researchers, and these numbers are continuing to grow. The University is closely interwoven in the city, even more than in Leiden: students are challenged to do internships in a social context. Researchers from the Faculty of Medicine conduct research on improving the health of the city's inhabitants, and there are close links with the city as the centre of government. The municipality supports the development of the University in many different ways.

Following the example of Plexus

Beehive, which was realised with support from the municipality of The Hague, is based on the example of Plexus in Leiden. It is opposite the biggest of the University's premises in The Hague - Wijnhaven. It was originally an office building that has now been converted into a light and modern centre where students can study, do sports, meet up with one another and also find a range of University facilities. 

Saskia Bruines, alderman in The Hague, and Vice-Rector Hester Bijl. Beehive
Saskia Bruines, alderman in The Hague, and Vice-Rector Hester Bijl together perform the opening ceremony: tearing a poster down the middle.

What does Beehive have to offer?


Bee Quiet. Study room with 80 workplaces with laptops or laptop connections, including a number of wooden cabins for more privacy.


Buzz. Three rooms, one of which has fitness equipment, one with strength equipment and an area for such activities as pilates, (Yin) yoga, zumba and all kinds of dance. Staff and people from outside the University can also do sports here: see the options and rates.

University services

  • Appointments can be made here with the ombudsperson, psychological counsellors, student advisers and job market specialists. There are also walk-in sessions.
  • Students can visit Job Motion, the University's in-house employment agency. Job Motion organises relevant internships for students in The Hague.
  • Students can sign up for a language course at the desk of the Language Centre.

Study and student associations

  • Several different student associations have their main headquarters or a branch office in  The Hague, including the Leiden University Green Office, the Afro Student Organisation, AIESEC and ESN.  Student radio station Radio8 Radio is also located there.
  • The Hague has three study associations that share a single office in Beehive. These are Custodia (Security Studies), IRSA (the advanced master's in international Relations), and Ciros (International Relations and Organisation), with 900 students, by far the biggest programme in The Hague. 

Rooms for general use and office facilities

  • The largest room is the ESNcommon room, which can also be used by other associations provided the activities concerned are open for all students. This common room is the only one with a kitchen.
  • The BUZ room for yoga and dance can also be booked for cultural events.
  • Beehive has meeting rooms on almost all floors that can be reserved for different activities. 

Outside official opening hours, access to the building is via fingerprint. 

Text: Corine Hendriks
Photography: Nicole Romijn
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