How can your school help bumblebees?

I do a few events with schools and find that teachers are generally enthusiastic about bumblebees and want to be able to spread the message to their students. One of our members, Philip Hughes, is the Headmaster of Crab Lane Primary School in Manchester. At that school they've made great efforts to educate the children about bees through interesting and creative projects. Read on to find out more in this guest blog from Philip...

'Empowering children with the knowledge and understanding of our planet’s ecology is an essential component of conservation and more schools need to do their bit.

At Crab Lane Primary School, Manchester, we have redeveloped our woodland garden to include flowering plants that will support our local populations of bumblebees; already, both the children and the bees are buzzing about the improvements! My own passion for supporting the work of the BBCT has extended beyond the confines of my back garden into the school grounds. Our gardening club meets every week for planting and learning about the role of pollinating insects.  To coincide with National Insect Week, our message of ‘conservation through creation’ spread to all 352 children in the school, through a range of wonderful sessions around the role of bumblebees in pollination, their life cycle and their decline – BBCT educational resources were excellent for this. Our immersion in the world of the bee, however, was not limited to the garden: bumblebee cakes, sock puppets and flags were also produced. Our aim was to instil a sense of respect in children for these magnificent insects, while addressing some of the misconceptions surrounding them:

Yes, bumblebees are different to honeybees!
No, bumblebees will not sting for the fun of it!
Yes, nearly all bumblebees die before winter!

National Insect Week was a great success for us and our classroom learning was supplemented with fund-raising to support the magnificent work of the BBCT; well over 100 bee pin badges were sold and a ‘summer colours’ non-uniform day raised over £150.

Of course, the best bit is seeing bees in action. Now that the plants are in place, the bees are coming. They have enjoyed the alliums, foxgloves and salvias already and await the imminent arrival of our lavender and buddleja flowers. In return, the children enjoy watching them forage and identifying the different bumblebee species.

An explicit focus on pollinating insects has enhanced our curriculum significantly; children are better equipped to understand sustainability, they are engaging more readily with the outdoors and they are more observant of the natural world around them. Above all, their interest in – and respect for – our bumblebees has increased. We’ve only just begun our journey into wildlife gardening and we hope many other schools do the same; equipping our children to support the ecology of the planet in the future is essential, not to mention great fun! With this in mind, we are delighted to support the Bumblebee Conservation Trust in delivering its message.'

Philip Hughes, Crab Tree Primary School.

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