St Catherine’s CofE School in Launceston have welcomed some new little friends as two new bee hives make their way to the school.

After much research, fundraising and courses for Mrs Heather Bishop and Mrs Jo Parish, in May 2022, the school purchased bee hives with established colonies to begin their bee-keeping journey.

Jo Parish, secretary at the school explained: “Bee Club was started that month and our keen Year 5 and 6 pupils were able to attend weekly after school to Bee Club. During Bee Club pupils would wear suits and help check the hives and learn all about the bee husbandry.

“All of this situated at our School Apiary which has a viewing window from within our poly-tunnel, a perfect spot for those not feeling brave enough to wear a suit, and our younger year groups, to be able to still watch, learn and be involved.”

The school has now marked a whole year of bee-keeping and what’s the best part of having bees? Honey!

“In August last year we harvested our honey crop with labels designed by Bee Club members for us to use on our honey jars,” Jo explained. “We sold the honey at school to raise more funds for our bee club. We extracted in excess of an amazing 23 kg of honey, which in our first year was completed by the teachers as our first time doing it, but this year will involve the Bee Club pupils too. Funds raised from honey sales have been reinvested into more bee-keeping suits, books used to study, tools, equipment and replacement frames ready for this year.

“The honey tasted amazing and, as well as being sold, we have had taster sessions in class of honey on toast and used it to make honey biscuits and honey bubble bath just before Christmas.

Through the winter months the club has continued indoors. Whilst the bees were sleeping, we have been Busy Bees ourselves learning all the theory about Bee Husbandry and what we can do to help these amazing creatures. The pupils have worked week after week, researching various topics, for example, the life cycle of the bee, plants, and products of the hive. More recently we have been working on an assembly presentation to share all of their learned knowledge with the rest of the school.”

In the last couple of months, the hives have been opened again for the first inspections since winter.

This time splitting down to two groups of six and seven, pupils got the maximum amount of times in the apiary, getting hands on experience.

“They are practising holding frames and inspecting them to look for the Queen, eggs, larvae, sealed brood and stores. Each week they amaze me with their knowledge and confidence whilst in with the bees,” Jo added.

“We have also been in touch with the Cornwall Beekeeping Association (CBKA) regarding making plans for some of our pupils to apply for the Junior Bee Keeping certificate, a qualification provided by the British Bee Keeping Association.

“We are intending to spend our prize money on purchasing our own honey extraction equipment, along with some flowers for our school gardens to help our bees and other pollinators this summer.”