Sheffield students buzzing about new bee-keeping initiative

An international charity is expanding its beekeeping initiative to help more young people in South Yorkshire learn about nature and ecology.

Wednesday, 11th September 2019, 9:45 am
Updated Wednesday, 9th October 2019, 3:15 pm
David Richards at Stocksbridge Junior School.
David Richards at Stocksbridge Junior School.

Students from five primary and secondary schools and one college campus in the region will benefit from the installation of a series of new apiaries, which are being supported by The David and Jane Richards Family Foundation charity.

The foundation - which aims to educate, empower, and improve the lives of children across the world - will provide comprehensive practical training through its beekeeping consultant, Yvonne Kilvington, along with donations to cover equipment, national school membership of the British Beekeepers Association, individual membership of the local association, and the purchase of bees, at Oughtibridge Primary School, Stannington Infant School, Stocksbridge Junior School, Chaucer School, and The Sheffield College.

David and Jane Richards are both passionate about protecting bee populations and see bee-keeping as a valuable way of introducing children to a wide range of important subjects.

Together they set up the foundation to improve the lives of children, through the advancement of computing and ecology education in state schools and the advancement of environmental protection and improvement.

David said: “We need a healthy bee population for food security, sustainable farming, biodiversity and environmental protection.

“The apiaries will be a valuable teaching resource to enrich the curriculum and help children learn about the living world around them.”

Their foundation launched its beekeeping initiative at a community primary school last summer, believed to be the first state school in Sheffield to have beehives and a colony of bees on site.

Samantha Gaymond, headteacher at Stocksbridge Junior School, said: “We are buzzing with excitement about our bees, thanks to the support of the David and Jane Richards Family Foundation.

“We hope the bees will become an integral part of our wider curriculum. Happy bees will enrich the learning experience at our school and help strengthen relationships in our community.

“We feel very fortunate to be part of such a special project.”

According to the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, pollinators are facing many pressures including habitat loss, pests and diseases, extreme weather, competition from invasive species, climate change, and use of some pesticides. Defra says the number of bee species has fallen in many parts of the UK.

Jane Richards added: “Staff and teachers have shown real enthusiasm and dedication for this project and we are delighted to be working with them.

“Children can learn so much from bees and beekeeping and we look forward to more schools and colleges joining our initiative in the future.”

The foundation has carried out a rigorous risk assessment of the institutions and will provide training and support for a year.

In most cases, beekeeping will be taught as part of the ecology curriculum. It will also be taught through alternative provision for children outside of mainstream education.

Yvonne Kilvington, beekeeping consultant to the foundation, is gardener and activity support worker at a forest school in West Yorkshire and a passionate beekeeper with a lifelong love of bees.

She established an apiary at her school eight years years ago, creating an inspirational and interactive learning environment for young people.