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At Gladstone School in Masterton, we promote our people to be empowered to make a difference. Our vision statement is ‘E tangata (our people): nurtured; empowered; inclusive’, so we were extremely keen to help our tamariki see their bees project through. Fortunately for our kura, we were successful with our application to the Earthwise Action Fund for funding to purchase beekeeping equipment, hives and the actual bees.

Earlier in the year our Ruamahanga syndicate (Years 4-6) conducted a study of bees and how they contribute to nature – it was a key learning focus for the group. As a result of the learning that took place, students asked if they could set up beehives and develop a sustainable project for our community. The Earthwise Action Fund was topped up by generous donations from our school community and we now have a fully operational bee entity, complete with ongoing community support so that the venture can be maintained and is sustainable over time.

During the course of the project, tamariki have been fully involved in the selection of the equipment, decisions about the location of the hives, digging of pathways and the planting of the area with bee-friendly plants. They have learned (and continue to learn) how to feed and care for the bees as well as safe ways to check the status of the honey. This includes how to use the smoker, how to safely remove the frames for inspection, how to detect a change in the bees’ ‘mood’ and how to record our data so we can track the health of our beehive.

Outcomes for the students have been that they have been empowered to see the bee initiative come to life, they have furthered their learning about bees and are now moving into the productivity side of the project where they will plan on harvesting honey to then add to the local community pātaka kai where excess honey can be given away. This is part of a larger vision to provide our school and the community with kai such as fruit, veggies and eggs along with the expected honey crop. Students will also be able to use the honey and other produce for ‘Garden to Table’ initiatives.