Foundation expands beekeeping initiative to include more schools

The David and Jane Richards Family Foundation is expanding its beekeeping initiative to help more young people learn about nature and ecology.

The registered charity is supporting the installation of new apiaries at primary and secondary schools and a college campus in Sheffield, South Yorkshire. Listen here to BBC Radio Sheffield’s report on the project.

The foundation is providing 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.

Pupils and students at the following institutions will benefit:

  • Oughtibridge Primary School
  • Stannington Infant School
  • Stocksbridge Junior School
  • Chaucer School (Secondary)
  • The Sheffield College (Hillsborough Campus).

David and Jane Richards are passionate about protecting bee populations and see beekeeping as a valuable way of introducing children to a wide range of interesting, useful and important subjects.

Their foundation launched its beekeeping initiative at a community primary school last summer. It was 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.

David Richards at Stocksbridge Junior School.

David Richards, co-founder of the foundation, 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.”

A number of the schools have organised special fundraising events for the initiative.

Jane Richards, co-founder of the foundation, 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.