School buzzing with activity

Busy bees at work in beehives at Botany Downs Primary School. Times photo Wayne Martin.

To bee or not to bee?

It took a lot of convincing and almost four years to happen and now Botany Downs Primary School is a buzzing hive of activity. Literally! The school has just got two new beehives!

Teacher Tom Huskinson was keen that children make a connection with nature and learn how integrated the ecosystem is.

“I wanted to motivate the children to have real world experiences with garden bees and how we get honey.

“Unfortunately a lot of parents from overseas were worried that their children may get stung by the bees and so there was some opposition, but now it’s all come to be,” he says.

“I wanted the kids to get rid of their fear of bees and learn how they are critical pollinators.

“The idea behind it is also to collect honey for fundraising and for them to be able to spot the queen bee, to know about drones-the male bees that have a big stomach and don’t do much,” he laughs.

Botany Downs Primary School teacher Tom Huskinson (back row) says he is keen that students get rid of the fear of bees. Pictured with students and local beekeeper Matthew Brajkovich. Times photo Wayne Martin

The school contacted social entrepreneur and activist Matthew Brajkovich from Mr B’s Bees whose family has been bee-keeping for 200 years.

Along with Ceracell, suppliers of bee-ware, he set up two wooden boxes that house bee frames, an essential part of a modern day movable hives in any colony. These are what the bees use to build combs for honey and their young.

Breaking away from the traditional beehive, the idea of hosting a hive is catching on fast – anyone can host a hive on their property and have it managed by experienced and professional beekeepers.

The bonus is having the sweetest and pure honey straight off the honeycomb.

“If bees die, we die,” says Matthew.

“There will be no backyard tomatoes, lemon trees or any vegetable gardens if you don’t have bees to pollinate,” he tells a group of youngsters.

“I had inspected the new frames a week ago and am now rearranging them so that they have a better order to pollinate. They want to swarm if they don’t have enough space. It’s like inviting people for dinner and not having enough to eat,” he says.

“These are small Italian bees that are not as big or aggressive as the African ones.”

While Matthew doesn’t charge the schools for his services, part of the proceeds from the sale of honey goes to him to help with the maintenance costs and licence fee.

The hobbyist has been visiting schools like Riverina, Howick Intermediate, Baverstock Oaks and Sancta Maria College to educate students on `beeing right’.

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