Meet the busy wee bees at a Scottish school

Outdoor learning is central to the ethos at St Leonards School in St Andrews, with beekeeping, bushcraft, and Beach School amongst the core elements embedded in the International Baccalaureate curriculum and co-curriculum.

From cooking ‘wee bannocks’ over the fire pit in the outdoor classroom – to bring Year 1’s study of the traditional Scottish retelling of The Gingerbread Man, The Wee Bannock to life- to whittling ‘adventure sticks’ and investigating forces and fractions on the beach – outdoor education permeates all aspects of school life.

Once the school day is done, boarders enjoy evenings under the stars outside their boarding houses, toasting marshmallows over the flames and simply relaxing together in the fresh air.

This all ties in with the school’s commitment to environmental sustainability.

The pupils have been heavily involved in the production of the honey

Duncan Barrable, Head of Years 4-6, explained: ‘We encourage pupils of all ages to recognise their responsibility as global citizens. Curricular and co-curricular initiatives at St Leonards ensure that, from a young age, pupils appreciate how plants, birds, pollinators, and wildlife form ecosystems and intricate food chains, which play an important role in preserving the balance of the world in which we live.

‘Our Beekeeping Club is a wonderful and very tangible example of this intricate balance, and how we manage the biodiversity of our grounds has a direct impact on the health of our bees.’

The four bee colonies, which reside in purpose-built hives just outside the window of the head’s study, are looked after by the Beekeeping Club with the support of qualified members of staff. Earlier this year, the first batch of St Leonards honey was harvested, bottled and labelled, and was a sell-out success. The pupils were heavily involved in the process from start to finish, whether that be tending to the bee colonies, scraping honey from the frames, spinning the extractor, or pouring honey into sterilised jars.

The label design for the first batch of St Leonards honey was inspired by Year 6 pupil Emma T

Jars of delicious honey have now been enjoyed by many St Leonards families and staff, and the second harvest is eagerly anticipated.

The label design for the first batch of honey was inspired by Year 6 pupil, Emma T and featured a modern, hexagonal honey bee design complete with trails and a touch of St Leonards School tartan.

This year, as part of the IB Middle Years Programme Design course, the Year 8 pupils have been set the challenge of creating a new label for the next batch, as part of their Unit of Inquiry entitled ‘What’s the Buzz?’. Throughout the project, they have learned about the use of typography, scale, composition, and colour in graphic design, and also researched honeybees and why they are important for the environment. There have been some fantastic creative concepts produced already, and at the end of the academic year one design will be chosen to feature on the jars in the next batch of honey.

Find out more about St Leonards School HERE.