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West Lothian Pupils Challenged to Bee Supportive

Published Wednesday, 12th March 2014 in Study at SRUC news

Seafield Primary School bees

A local community group have launched an exciting new competition which challenges West Lothian schools to learn all about the world of bees.

Run by Rural Connect, the new competition will see schools creating garden areas specifically for bees for the chance to win a £400 voucher for Dobbies garden centre, who are partners in the competition.

Primary schools will be asked to plan, design and then plant up an area of their school garden that focuses on attracting bees. This might contain wild flowers, or trees, or other plants that are high providers of pollen and nectar, the essential food stuffs for bees. Over twenty-five schools will be taking part in the competition which will be judged in August, giving the schools plenty of time to get planning and planting.

The Edinburgh and Midlothian Beekeeping Association will help judge the gardens alongside the Rural Connect team. They will be looking at what plants the children have chosen to feed bees, the design of the garden, as well as other features like bug and bee hotels which encourage pollinators by providing them with comfortable homes. 

Bee populations are struggling all over the world due to a variety of different environmental pressures and this initiative seeks to look at those struggles and investigate ways in which local people can help alleviate some of the problems they face.

Russell Smith, who is coordinating the project for Rural Connect, said: “Bees are so important to our ecosystem, they pollinate wild flowers as well as agricultural crops, they are essential for our food systems and if we see the collapse of bee populations in Britain then everyone is going to pay a heavy price for their loss.”

The team hopes the competition will give schools the opportunity to find out all about bees; how they live, life in a hive, how bees operate in the ecosystem and importantly what humans can do to encourage and help bees in their own gardens.

Marion Hurst from the Edinburgh and Midlothian Beekeeping Association has been keeping honeybees for over ten years.

She said: “This is a wonderful opportunity to get local children involved and learning about bees, it is important that children learn not to fear bees. An awful lot of people misunderstand bees thinking that they will sting people and harm them, and although it is true that they do sting, in reality they are not that interested in humans and would prefer to ignore them and get on with their busy lives, they only sting to defend their hive.”

Laura Stevens, Community Champion at Dobbies, Livingston, said: ‘We’re delighted to be partnering with Rural Connect to launch this competition. It’s great that primary schools will be able to learn about bees and find out how they can help keep the bee populations thriving. We look forward to welcoming the winning primary school into our garden centre in the summer.”

The bee competition will run from now until August when the judging will take place.

The competition is part of Rural Connect’s Project Bee initiative that is running throughout 2014 and is supported by a variety of groups including West Lothian Council, the Scottish Beekeeping Association and Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC). Project Bee aims to showcase the world of bees through a series of public events over the summer, check out the Rural Connect website for more information, or contact Russell Smith; russell.smith@sruc.ac.uk or call 01506 864 800.

Rural Connect is a community project which aims to connect the people of West Lothian to their local, rural environment. It is funded by LEADER, Lottery Heritage and Scotland’s Rural College. 

Photo caption: Teachers and pupils from Seafield Primary School with Russell Smith (middle back) and Marion Hurst from the Edinburgh and Midlothian Beekeeping Association (middle back).

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