Bees in the school environment can offer learning skills through most aspects of the curriculum and bring personal and social rewards to each participant.
Beekeeping is international and crosses all geographical and cultural barriers.
Before planning a beekeeping project seek the assistance
of an experienced and reputable local beekeeper and/or Club.
Consult an experienced beekeeper
Form a partnership with:
- a local, experienced beekeeper for knowledge, expertise and assistance in planning the project, purchasing, placing and maintaining hives, understanding behaviour, health, pests and diseases of bees and local pollen and nectar resources.
- the local Bee Club where knowledge and assistance is willingly shared by beekeepers and is a place to ask questions and learn from each other.
If distance is a barrier, form a partnership through phone and email.
Plan the Project
- Appoint a Project Officer with a long term commitment and enthusiasm for the project. What is the plan if this role ceases? Hives require regular attention to maintain hive health. Unmaintained hives can become a source of infection, of pests and diseases, to nearby hives –in trees or belonging to local beekeepers causing losses to their hobby or commercial income.
- How many hives to purchase?
- Who or what will fund the project?
- Budget for basic equipment costs and management requirements.
- smokers, hive tools and bee brushes
- protective clothing including bee suits, veils and gloves
- one or more hives (begin with nucleus colonies or larger, working hives)
Seek advice from a reputable and experienced beekeeper for assistance in purchasing disease-free, healthy hives.
- additional supers, frames and foundation for hive manipulation and expansion
- equipment to control and manage pests and diseases.
- a sealed storage facility (for spare frames) that will exclude wax moth, small hive beetles, rodents and possums.
- an extractor, uncapping knife, honey storage container and hygienic, bee proof facilities to extract and bottle the honey
- honey containers/bottles
- Beehives require the most attention from Spring to Autumn, when honey production is at its peak and swarming is common.
- Plan how hives will be maintained from November to February (from 6-16 weeks) when minimal or no practical work may be possible by students due to exams and school holidays.
5. Be familiar with Beekeeping Regulations - State and Local Governments and Industry.
6. Locate a suitable apiary site:
• where the bees flight paths will not interfere with normal activities of:students, staff and the local community
•offers an adequate water supply especially during hot, dry times
•preferably has a northerly aspect with little/no shade in winter
•offers security from possible vandalism
7. Training - Certificate 111 in Beekeeping is recognized in Queensland as a Traineeship.
Write a Risk Assessment
Including bee stings -
- understand their physical structure and the fastest and safest way to remove them.
- understand "normal" bee sting reactions.
- be aware of any student or staff member who is dangerously allergic to bee stings (Anaphylactic Shock). Have a well documented and rehearsed plan in the case of an unfortunate emergency.
Talk to School Neighbours
- Consult with neighbours before establishing hives, especially in an urban area.
- Have a Quality Assurance Plan for extracting and bottling honey.
- How will the honey be used?
- Given away?
- Used within the school - Home Economic Department /Tuckshop?
- Sold? Check Government labelling regulations.
- Queensland Beekeepers Association Inc (Contacts, Training, Pests & Diseases)
- Queensland Government Beekeeping Essentials
- Industry's Best Practice
- Labelling Regulations
Text and images by Marion Weatherhead (Education Chair - Queensland Beekeepers Association Inc.)