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Students at Northampton College’s Daventry Campus are buzzing with excitement as they get set to welcome thousands of bees into four new hives as part of a wildlife conservation project.

Youngsters on the ‘Stepping Up’ programme elected to learn more about bees and beekeeping for their course and, having already created a pond and planted pollinators, they are preparing for the arrival of thousands of bees to start their own apiary.

The Daventry Bee Project will involve students from across the curriculum, with art students designing and selling a range of Christmas cards to raise money and carpentry students making the strands for the hives to sit on.

Estates co-ordinator Chris Thompson, a keen beekeeper in his spare time, is assisting teaching staff with the practical aspects of the project, and said he was thrilled to see the enthusiasm from students involved in the campaign.

He added: “Our students wanted to learn more about bees and other pollinators, and what the college could do to help them. They had heard about the plight that native bees are in due to the use of pesticides, loss of habitat and the effects of imported disease so we set up the Daventry Bee Project and converted an area within the grounds into a bee conservation area.

“Students planted pollinator-friendly plants and trees, made a wildlife pond, constructed a bee hotel and created a variety of habitats to encourage nesting.

“This year, we are creating a honeybee apiary with four beehives. Students are learning about honeybees, their lifecycle and their importance in the pollination of food crops. It’s proving a highly engaging way of learning about something that really matters to our students.

“All college students will have the opportunity to learn about the importance of bees in the natural world and in human food production, and will be able to learn the basics of beekeeping, as it is crucial young people are being encouraged to take up the craft of beekeeping for the future.”

The bees are due to arrive at the campus next spring, and students will wear made-to-measure beekeeping suits to ensure they can safely handle the insects. Honey produced by the bees will then be sold to help the project become self-sustainable for the future.

Student Naomi Fordham, aged 17, said: “I never expected to be doing beekeeping as part of my college course but it’s really opened my eyes to how it’s all done. It’s been really interesting.”

Tiernan Davy, aged 18, added: “It’s good to learn something different and get out of the classroom into the outside world. I’ve enjoyed the challenge and I’m looking forward to getting the bees into their hives.”

The Mayor of Daventry, together with the Leader of the Town Council, will be visiting Daventry campus on Thursday, November 28, for a tour of the conservation area and hive set-up while members of the public are invited along the following day as part of the Woodland Trust’s national ‘Climate Fightback’ event to plant saplings and enjoy hot chocolate and cakes.
An online crowdfunding campaign has been set up to raise £1,500 for the initial costs of the Daventry Bee Project. Donations can be made here.

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