By Natalie Wilkie
With initial discussions taking place in 2012, Bolton School Beekeeping Club finally welcomed 20,000 European honeybees to the hand-built hive that was erected during spring term.
Apiarist Keith Hemming transferred five populated honeycombs to the hive while providing a running commentary throughout. He also conducted a small Q&A session, so the boys could ask for advice about looking after their colony.
With careful maintenance and consolidation, the summer months should see the school’s bee population swell to around 50,000, whereupon the Beekeeping Club will look towards establishing a second hive.
Although the first focus is on building a full colony, the schoolboys ultimately hope they will be able to sell jars of Bolton School honey.
Marc Tillotson, head of biology, who runs the club, said: ‘The study and care for bees incorporates so many different skills and illuminates a multitude of diverse areas of biology. We have much that we can learn from the bees, and much that the environment can gain from our simple efforts to support the threatened bee population.”
Bolton School student, Henry Mitson, who first enquired about a Beekeeping Club, said: ‘After discovering the fascinating craft of beekeeping in the summer of 2012 I suggested to the biology department that we set up a club to give others the opportunity to experience beekeeping. The reaction of both boys and staff has been overwhelmingly positive; we are hoping in the future to introduce more boys and staff to the bees, and allow them to experience this incredibly interesting hobby.”