Buchan Beekeeping began in summer 2015 when the school purchased a colony of bees and the club was launched under the guidance of teacher and beekeeper Alan Macnair.
The club is run throughout the summer term, during lunchtimes and after school, with pupils involved in all aspects of beekeeping, from weekly hive inspections to the extraction process and bottling. Last year saw 40lbs of honey extracted.
The children have been involved in a huge number of tasks including, assembling frames, undertaking inspections – checking brood pattern, assessing colony health, marking queens, using a smoker/hive tool, opening/closing entrances, feeding syrup, assessing stores, adding supers, swarm management, and removing capped frames of honey – extracting, cleaning frames, bottling, designing labels, and labelling.
'Beekeeping helps pupils to develop a greater understanding of the world around them,' explained Alan. 'It shows them the importance of bees and other pollinating insects and helps to develop a care for our natural world.
'It teaches pupils the fine balance between success and failure in nature and, critically, the role that humans must play in keeping this balance. Pupils gain insight into the works of the highly complex and effective social structure at play within a hive and appreciate the contribution of all members of the hive community.
'In addition, mathematical skills are developed when working with hive data and pupils gain an understanding of how the data relates to real world outcomes.'
The club has been supported by Chrystals estate agents, which funded electronic monitoring equipment which tracks hive weight, temperature and humidity, and BBWear, which donated a number of child-sized all-in-one bee suits, making hands-on experiences possible.
Future plans include exploring the biology of a bee using microscopes, planting a bee-friendly garden, improving the quality of the stock through queen selection and improving links with the local beekeeping community.