Children in the Pele Trust’s primary schools are absolutely buzzing after taking part in a week-long eco project focused on bee education.
The pupils have been learning all about keeping bees and how to make gardens more bee friendly as part of the project about the insects and the wider environmental agenda.
The multi academy trust’s primary schools, along with Stamfordham and Whalton primary schools, have been involved in bee-related activities, ranging from geography fieldwork to poetry, art and scientific enquiry. As part of the English element of the project, Year 6 students from each school acted as journalists to write about their experiences.
The children at Belsay School had visitors who explained how beehives and honey production works. They also saw a hive being taken apart with the use of a smoker and planted bee-friendly flowers. Fascinating facts they learned included the name for a male bee (a drone), the fact he has no sting and lives for 48 days.
At Darras Hall Primary School pupils took on a BBC Radio 2 challenge to design a bee garden, made clay models of bees and flowers and created bee homes in their forest school. They also had Zoom calls with beekeepers and worked with artist Scott Donnelly, who demonstrated how to use beeswax crayons and watercolours.
Richard Coates Primary School was visited by beekeepers who came into school to show the children how bees react to smoke and how native honey collectors get their honey. They also learned how to extract honey and wax.
And it was a hive of activity at Heddon St. Andrew’s Primary School, where pupils tried on a beekeeping suit, examine a smoker and held real beeswax and honeycomb. The third day saw them creating honeycomb and bee art using oil pastels, before designing a ‘bee b&b’.
Children at Ponteland Primary School sadly missed out on ‘Bee Week’, as pupils in its Year 6 bubble were forced to self-isolate during the week due to Covid-19.
But the bee curriculum will continue next year, spanning the pupils’ transition into secondary school in September.
So what did the busy little bees think about their week?
Belsay Primary School Year 6 pupil Poppy said: “The smoker was really cool and I liked trying on the bee suit.” Year 5 pupil Harrison added: “My favourite part about it was being able to go outside all day and collecting information about the bees as part of our fieldwork.”
The project was co-ordinated by Ponteland High School’s Assistant Head Teacher (English) Sarah Routledge, supported by volunteer Julie McGrane from education consultancy Leading Learning.
Sarah said: “Transition into secondary school is an exciting time for children and this is a fantastic project which spans both Years 6 and 7. Pupils at the four primary schools clearly loved ‘Bee Week’ and we are very grateful to all the external organisations and professionals who visited or ‘Zoomed’ in, ensuring the children were absolutely buzzing!”
Olivia Flemming, Imogen Lunn (with book) and Miles Lunn from Darras Hall Primary School enjoying ‘Bee Week’. Photos by Barry Pells.