Supporting an onsite apiary in a school takes an enormous amount of work, time and effort but the bees can offer so much to the children in ways that are immeasurable

The excellent Heron Hill Apiary, supported by Kendal Beekeepers started 3 years ago. Jacqui Cottam, being involved with bees since she was twelve, thought to bring bees and children together would be a great step for her school.

She had a lot of support from her local beekeeping association and this has resulted in successful completion of their first ten Junior Assessments in June 2018.

Jacqui said:

... seven were current Heron Hill children, 8–11, and three were past pupils, so ‘bitten by the beekeeping bug’ they come back every week for bee club and have taken the certificate. The exam day went well; tough, but the children did brilliantly, even demonstrating an artificial swarm to the examiner in the practical session! I was so proud of them. They might have been standing on boxes to reach the hive, but they were competent and really professional ... Five to six weeks to wait for the results, but fingers crossed they all got it. They had done the most amazing range of projects, from selfbuild hives, Mayan beehives with a comparison to our National, an anatomically correct queen bee model, an educational DVD to teach other young beekeepers about beekeeping, weather research about how many days our bees in Cumbria have to forage, (depressing and really interesting at the same time ... so much rain!!) to name but a few.”

Jacqui also offered a word of warning saying that onsite school apiaries are not for the faint-hearted.

“The teaching and the apiary management happen separately...The full-time element has been from me with the support of two teachers who are now competent and passionate beekeepers ... the three roles are shared between us, but are quite distinct areas, which other schools would need to consider.”

Jacqui’s bee club shared their knowledge with the rest of the school when they celebrated their ‘Bee Day,’ showing their ‘bee shed’ to all 438 pupils with bee-themed work, projects and workshops. As Jacqui said:

“The whole school have gone bee mad.”