Ysgol San Sior school buzzing thanks to Bee TV

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Pupils Sienna Longley, Jiada Puma Thomas and Kieran Weir with Brian Leggett, Chairman of the community chest.

An eco-friendly school has set up a colony of bees and is producing honey which is due to go on sale later this year.

Pictured is pupil Sienna Longley.
Pictured is pupil Sienna Longley.

The enterprising pupils at Ysgol San Sior in Llandudno have even installed a web-cam in one of the hives so they can monitor the daily activities of the queen bee and her drones.

The project is buzzing thanks to a £650 grant from the Community Chest fund set up by housing association Cartrefi Conwy to support worthwhile community initiatives.

During a visit to the school representatives from the fund were told the honey will be going on sale at the famous Conwy Honey Fair in the autumn.

The school cultivates nectar rich plants and flowers to support the bees but pupils have also learned to manually feed them.

Ten year old Kieran Wier said feeding the bees was a favourite task. He said: “It’s really interesting. There are different feeding methods for summer and winter. In summer we fill a container with sugary water, take the lid off and the bees will drink from it. In winter we have a special plastic container which we place in the colony for the bees to feed from.”

Fellow pupils Jiada Puma Thomas and Sienna Longley, both 10, love learning about honey production. Jiada said: “Most bees are workers, and they’re led by the queen bee. Workers are females, responsible for producing the honey. There are only a small number of males in the hives.”

Sienna added: “We collect the honey from the combs to put into small jars which we sell at the school. As the bee population increases we hope to produce more, but at the moment there is only really enough to sell locally to school friends and parents.”

The apiary adds to Ysgol San Sior’s already impressive green reputation.

The school keeps chickens and golden pheasants, sells eggs, makes and sells chutneys and jams, and sells its own compost made from chicken manure which is used to grow organic fruit and vegetables.

In addition it has a menagerie of small animals which include reptiles, tortoises, newts, moths and butterflies.

According to headteacher Ian Jones, the grant from the Cartrefi Conwy Community Chest Fund was a huge help in starting up the bee project which the school has been working on for several months.

It started off last summer with one bee hive and now has five, including active and seed hives.

The school has bought professional high quality bee keeping outfits and all pupils have the chance to be involved in the care of the bees and honey production process.

The school also established its chicken keeping business a few years ago. That started with just a handful of chickens, selling the resulting eggs to parents and staff, but today the school has 156 hens of different breeds, plus more than a dozen golden pheasants.

Last year it produced more than 17,000 eggs and it now supplies Bodnant Welsh Food shop and Edwards of Conwy.

Mr Brian Leggett, chairman of the Cartrefi Conwy Community Chest Fund, said: “I have seen the San Sior eggs on display at Bodnant and they fly off the shelves. The yolks are so yellow and they taste delicious.”

He said the fund was delighted to be able to help the school which everyone on the panel agreed was a very worthy grant recipient.

The Community Chest Fund is managed by a panel made up of four Cartrefi Conwy tenants and an independent board member. Cartrefi Conwy staff provide the panel with administrative support.

Voluntary, community and recreational groups or individuals, based in the county of Conwy can apply for grants of up to £1,000 towards projects which help improve community life.

Ysgol San Sior teaching assistant Fiona Roberts, said the grant money has been put to excellent use and local people may soon be able to taste for themselves the stunning results.

The school, in Church Walk, is planning to sell some of the honey it produces at this autumn’s Conwy Honey Fair, which is the oldest honey fair in Wales.

Mrs Roberts said: “Producing our own honey is a real learning curve for the staff as well as the pupils, everyone learns together here and there is unlimited enthusiasm for all our eco-projects.

“As well as maths, literacy and science we are also learning life skills and home keeping. We cook with the vegetables we grow and pupils learn how to be creative with their cooking.

“For instance a number of children told us they did not like courgettes, but when we cooked a chocolate and courgette muffin recipe they all loved it. They really are learning how to think out of the box.”

Headteacher Mr Jones, who once worked in a butterfly farm, agreed. He said: “The school has cultivated a real community atmosphere.

“We are all exploring and discovering new skills together and it is not just the animal husbandry aspects which children learn about. We integrate literacy, numeracy and science projects with the care of our animals.

“For example, through our egg selling children learn about business development, the importance of stock-taking, calculation of food stuffs, time keeping skills, marketing and presentation.

“All our pupils can tell you about the natural history, conservation and habitats of any of the animals here, and we have teams of young leaders who are responsible for guiding visitors around the school, answering questions and giving information about all our different projects.”

All proceeds made from egg sales and confection production is reinvested into furthering the school’s eco projects.

Clare Phipps, Cartrefi Conwy Community Involvement Coordinator, who visited the school with Mr Leggett, was hugely impressed by the scale and diversity of the educational syllabus.

She said: “There is no doubt that this grant from the Community Chest Fund is being put to the most original of uses and through the honey production, chicken breeding and eggs sales, the benefits are clearly being fed back into our community in the most delicious of ways!

“I am thrilled to see valuable support go to such a pioneering school.”

For more information about Cartrefi Conwy Community Chest Fund visit http://www.cartreficonwy.org/cartrefi/page/community-chest or contact Clare Phipps on 01745 335656 or email clare.phipps@cartreficonwy.org