The OVO Foundation Nature Prize


Northfleet Technology College, Gravesend

Nature reserve supports budding beekeepers

Northfleet Technology College, a boys’ secondary school in Gravesend, Kent, is on a mission to embed sustainability into all aspects of school life. This includes developing a nature reserve area on the school grounds. As part of these development plans, the school won a £200 OVO Foundation Nature Prize to buy a colony of bees and create their own on-site apiary.

Students have helped to plan the development of the apiary. Now they know how hives work, they will help build future hives. Forest school students have worked to site the safety barriers made from recycled hazel staves. In a matter of weeks, the school has become home to 2 colonies, providing a home to over 60,000 bees.

Now small groups of students will start training to become junior beekeepers. The British Bee-keeping Association will come to the school and deliver the training onsite. The honey produced by the bees will also be packaged and sold by students, as part of an eco-entrepreneurial business programme, in which students can learn about the principles of a circular economy.

“The OVO prize has enabled the apiary to purchase the first 2 colonies. This will result in 4 colonies in Spring 2024 when we split the hives.”

-Micheal Jones, Director of Innovation and Computer Science Lead

As the bee population grows and splits into more hives, the school has plans to assign hives to various local primary schools. Although the bees will be kept in Northfleet’s nature reserve, there will be an open-door policy so primary schools can visit their hives to learn about the bees and help look after them. Staff at the school would eventually like to open the nature area to other community groups, including a local hospice, so as many people as possible can visit the site and connect with nature.

The development of the nature reserve, and the introduction of bees to the site, has been an important part of increasing student access to nature. Many students don’t have green spaces at home and the site offers both students and their families the space to explore, learn and connect with nature.

The reserve will also be a learning tool; the recently installed pond will be used in science for pond dipping activities, whilst the English and DT departments have plans, with the students, to create an outdoor amphitheatre where English and drama lessons can take place.

Students will also monitor the bees using solar powered hive scales next term, as part of a STEM project. These scales will record the weight of each hive and transmit the data to classrooms where students can record and analyse the data.

Purchasing their first bee colony with funding from OVO Foundation has enabled the development of the school’s nature reserve and created practical and classroom-based learning opportunities. For other schools interested in bees, linking the project with different curriculum subjects including maths, science and DT is a great way to get whole school buy in and ensure wide-reaching student involvement.

Lets Go Zero logo for schools working to become zero carbon by 2030.

Contact us

Email: letsgozero@ashden.org
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OVO Foundation Nature Prize

Schools can win the cash to implement a community nature project. Schools from disadvantaged areas with high pupil premium are particularly encouraged to apply.

Applications opening 30 Novmeber 2023.

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