If nothing else we would put tips on how gardeners could encourage bees in The RHS wheel barrow competition is a great way to encourage visitors to attend the RHS show in Cardiff, parents go along and vote for their schools wheelbarrow. At £8 a ticket for adults we never considered that we would their gardens and remind the visitors that unlike wasps bees are not dangerous pests. Part of the design was looking at ways to keep the costs down by using 'freely' available products, plants from our garden etc.
Green Gang take the lead in most environmental projects but everyone seemed to want to give up their lunch hours to help us make the beehive and get our facts together. The design was simple enough, make the whole wheelbarrow a bee with bands of alternate yellow and black flowers and foliage, the handles would become antenna. In March a lot of the daffodils had already bloomed and the rest of the garden plants had not even been sown yet. We could not afford to fill the whole wheel barrow with flowers so had the idea of adding a skep, but it was easier to make a box beehive. We used compost from our own composters and even planted some of the bulbs given to us by the Lord Mayor at the beginning of the year.
Out came the saws and the glue guns as the children made the beehive even giving it a asphalt roof and dance floor by the entrance. We talked about weather proofing it and so a coat of gloss paint went on the wood work.
One of the mums Mrs Clarke has been great at crafts and all things artistic, she came up with the idea of making sequined bees that would flutter in the breeze on wires fixed to the beehive. Again just about every one wanted a go at making a bee and we thank Mrs Clarke so much for giving up her lunch hour to work with the children.
You can find out lots more about the huge contribution that bees make to our economy here. As ever many of these photos are taken by the children themselves as they record some of the work that they have done in designing and making the various elements that went into the project.
The children learnt lots of new skills such as painting and design even before they started planting a single flower. We were all impressed with the tips that they gathered on bees themselves. Everyone knows facts like bees are aerodynamically unsound and it is often quoted that they should not be able to fly, so when the children came back and said that was just a myth, the adults were a little embarrassed but well very impressed.
The children themselves were impressed with the bees waggle dance and they notion of bees communicating such difficult information such as distance and direction 'through the medium of dance'. Again people used to think that bees had two separate dances one for long and one for short distances but study had shown that their is one dance but it is too fast for us humans to notice!
We were really surprised that we managed to attract any of the votes at the show but we came Third and received a cheque for £50 that came in very handy in the garden. You can see the presentation here. The children used the assembly and reported back what they had done to the whole school.
We used the wheelbarrow and the work we did with bees as the main theme for our stand at the opening of the community garden at our local High School Glyn Derw. This was seen as a way that Green Gang could reach out to the local community in Ely. We had a honey tasting session (including local Ely honey); 'Millie beekeeping' colouring competition and Green Gang also gave out advice on composting too encouraging people to get them from the council. It was the first time that many young people had ever tried honey.
It is also worth mentioning that at least two other schools (Rhydeyrenau Primary & Hendre Infants) both used the RHS competition to promote the plight of the bee too.