When you stop to buy honey in your local supermarket, how often do you think about the diligence it takes a honey bee to produce? It takes a hive of bees to travel 55,000 miles to produce 453.5g of honey, with each honey bee producing about 1 / 12 of a teaspoon in its lifetime.
Honey bees are one of Science's notable enigmas as they have remained unchanged for 20 million years. So, why is this winged insect so important to human life? These ever so small eusocial creatures are valuable for their pollination services which are vital for ecological balance, making food production possible.
At Farnborough Hill, the Beehive Initiative has been born for this very purpose. Soon to beekeepers (pun intended!) are Mrs Sarah Oscroft, Mrs Madeline Greene Lally, Mr Jakke Tyrrell and Sr Elizabeth McCormack. We invited the Fleet and District Beekeepers' Association, the largest beekeeping association in Hampshire, to survey our grounds which were deemed a suitable environment for the honey bees. The Association has aided in the training of Mrs Greene Lally, Mr Tyrrell and Sr Elizabeth, whilst Mrs Oscroft undertook her training with South Chilterns Beekeepers' Association. Thornes of Windsor have been very accommodating, helping to supply us with our large beekeeping equipment order, with special thanks to Bob and Gill for our discount.
Whilst beekeeping is a great chance to connect with nature and be extremely beneficial on the surrounding environment, the initiative has a deeper connection with the School. Empress Eugénie, widow of Emperor Napoleon III of France and who formerly resided at Farnborough Hill, incorporated the bee within the architecture of the School as the bee was the Napoleonic imperial emblem, representing immortality and regeneration. The bee is a motif full of meanings. Due to its industrious nature the bee has come to symbolise hard work and diligence. The emblem can be found in various places in the School, with the Refectory being the first place to look. To this end, the bee became a more prominent emblem in the School logo during its rebrand in 2019.
Farnborough Hill will also be working closely with Saint Michael’s Abbey in Farnborough who will share their own joys of beekeeping and give valuable advice on best practice. The Beehive Initiative also springs hope for a new Enrichment club for Sixth Form in 2023, to give pupils a chance to learn about what it takes to construct the hive’s frameworks.
The apiary is set up deep in the grounds and equipment and suits are at the ready for the arrival of our new school inhabitants in June.