Beehives introduced at Sheffield primary school thanks to tech firm boss

WANdisco chief executive David Richards with a frame from the hive at Wisewood Community Primary School. Picture Scott Merrylees
WANdisco chief executive David Richards with a frame from the hive at Wisewood Community Primary School. Picture Scott Merrylees
0
Have your say

Children at a primary school in Sheffield will start learning about bees as part of a new initiative to spread awareness of their plight and help them learn about nature and ecology.

Wisewood Community Primary School has been given funding from The David and Jane Richards Family Foundation to fund an apiary.

Pupils at Wisewood Community Primary School. Picture: Scott Merrylees

Pupils at Wisewood Community Primary School. Picture: Scott Merrylees

The school, in Wisewood, is believed to be the first in the city to have beehives and a colony of bees on site.

Today pupils got up close to the hives as part of a ceremony to welcome the bees to the school, which is part of the Tapton Academy Trust.

READ MORE: Sheffield school celebrates significant rise in attendance and punctuality

From September, children will learn about beekeeping as part of the science curriculum.

The new hive at Wisewood Community Primary School. Picture Scott Merrylees

The new hive at Wisewood Community Primary School. Picture Scott Merrylees

Headteacher and budding bee keeper Liz Heapy said: "Our children are buzzing about having the bees on site.

"Learning how to keep them will increase their self confidence and understanding of the world in so many different ways.

"Bees can teach is about the benefits of co-operation, communication, efficiency and organisation.

"They are also producers of beneficial products including honey, pollen, propolis, royal jelly and wax.

WANdisco chief executive David Richards marks the Queen Bee at Wisewood Community Primary School

WANdisco chief executive David Richards marks the Queen Bee at Wisewood Community Primary School

"Our children will learn about running a harvesting business and pick up practical skills in numeracy, production and marketing."

Throughout the week each class has been learning more about bees as part of Bees' Needs Week.

Year two pupil Sabina Radnor said: "Before this week I was scared of bees but now I know that if you stay clam around them they stay calm around you.

"The best thing is to stand still and then they know you're not a flower."

WANdisco chief executive David Richards. Picture Scott Merrylees

WANdisco chief executive David Richards. Picture Scott Merrylees

READ MORE: Sheffield Sharks players back call for fairer funding in city’s schools

Sabina's class have painted bees and been making non-chronological report about them.

She added: "I've learnt that if we have no bees then three-quarters of the world's food that we eat would disappear."

Year four pupil Erin Langham will be given the chance next year to train to become a bee keeper alongside her year five peers.

She said: "I was really excited when I found out our school would be getting be hives because, although it's popular for schools to have pets, it's not for them to have bees and children getting the chance to become bee keepers."

She added: "Einstein said that if bees became extinct then man would only have four years left to live."

Pupils look at the bee hive with Sheffield BeekeepersAssociation chairmanPhil Khorassandjian

Pupils look at the bee hive with Sheffield BeekeepersAssociation chairmanPhil Khorassandjian

The David and Jane Richards Family Foundation is a charitable endeavour by David Richards, the founder and chief executive of WANdisco.

The couple are passionate about protecting the bee population and see beekeeping as a valuable way of introducing children to a wide range of interesting, useful and important subjects.

It has provided funding for the bees and essential items including beekeeping suits for children and adults, smokers, gloves, honey buckets, strainers, jars and tools.

"The aggressive use of pesticides is decimating the population of bees," said Mr Richards, who visit the school with his wife, Jane.

"We need a healthy bee population for food security, sustainable farming, biodiversity and environmental protection.

"Our goal is to make more people aware of the threat to their extinction and the devastating effect this would have on the balance of our system.

Mr Richards became a bee keeper around three years ago at his home in the Silicon Valley, and hopes to get a self funded beehive in every school in the UK.

READ MORE: Thieves steal tent from school grounds in Sheffield

There are 10 schools in Sheffield who have expressed interest in getting beehives.

He said: "About 18 months ago I had two huge beehives which were destroyed by my landscaper using a pesticide which was unknown to us.

"Seeing tens of thousands of dead bees was terrible. My initial reaction was anger but that was the wrong reaction.

"The landscaper didn't know and I realised it was more about education.

"He has a son and I thought, imagine if he was a beekeeper and understood all about it. That was the genesis of it."

The Sheffield Beekeepers Association has donated three beehives to the school.

Association chairman Phil Khorassandjian said: “For many years, we have wanted to get young people involved in keeping bees.

“With the support of the foundation, this has become a reality at Wisewood.

“We are very excited about this project and its educational and environmental potential.”

The foundation has donated £1.1million to fund a new hands-on course will launch at Tapton School, in Crosspool, in September and will teach pupils how to use apps to manipulate and analyse huge amounts of data.

It aims to inspire the next generation of technology entrepreneurs and focuses on data science to give young people the ability to understand and solve real world problems.

WANdisco has offices in the Electric Works in Sheffield, California and China, Japan, Belfast, Australia and India.