Buzz at Bunnythorpe

Safely suited up.

After completing a bee unit study last year, Bunnythorpe School students decided they wanted to look into placing a beehive in their school grounds. The students investigated what equipment they needed, and then had a visit from locals, Gillard Family Honey who talked to them about what it takes to run a beehive.

It’s lucky that Nina Booth, the Principal at Bunnythorpe School is also a beekeeper. She was able to help students prepare the site for the arrival of their own beehive. After some discussion, they decided to position their beehive at the far end of their grounds to protect students and the inquisitive public from inadvertently getting stung.

Since the arrival of the beehive and the resident bees, everyone has helped plant fruit trees from the local nursery, Trees for Bees, so that the hard-working bees have something extra to gather nectar from, to pollinate, and of course the school hopes to gain some fresh fruit. Students also made signs to warn the public that the beehive is not a place to ‘play’ around or get too close to.

“We mitigate the risk of keeping bees by first considering our students medical requirements to ensure there were no sting or anaphylactic risks. We communicated with our school whānau that we wanted to locate a beehive on the school grounds, including the location of the hive – away from the general playground and field, and asked for any concerns. We made signs to warn the public, and ensured the students were given some observation time where we talked about the places to stand and watch them and the do’s and don’ts,” explained Principal Nina Booth

Showing the frames set in the drum, ready for spinning.

Honey flows from the extractor.











The beginning of the school year was also honey harvest time and turn into most exciting part of their journey so far. Principal Booth brought her extracting equipment to school and all the students had a go at steadying the machine. This stopped it shaking around too much as it spun all the honey out of the frames. By holding the frames before and after they went into the extracting machine, students were able to compare the weights. The honey-filled frames were heavy, and around 15 litres of honey was extracted.

Deliciously sticky honey.

Quality control.










It was very sticky, but super yummy. Students tried chewing some wax and sucking the honey out of it and that was really fun! Each family got to take home two jars of honey and they have kept some honey at school to use in their baking and to give away to special visitors.

The Bunnythorpe School bees are not ‘wintered-down’ with lots of honey to feed on for the winter months. The colony has been reduced and will ‘huddle’ together to keep warm over the colder months. The queen will be in the middle of the ‘huddle’ and will also slow down her egg-laying until spring comes around again and all going well, the honey producing cycle will repeat.

Students work together to provide more fruit trees for the bees and the community.

Apples fruit starting to develop after pollination.