Three schools have been recognised for their work to support the important role that the humble bumble bee plays for South Ayrshire’s local environment.
Straiton and Girvan Primary Schools won first and second prize respectively for their beecraft exhibition held at the National Honey Show in London.
Carrick Academy took the top prize for the senior category.
The British Beekeepers Association estimate that about 70 crops are dependent on, or benefit from, visits from bees, with commercially grown insect-pollinated crops in the UK thought to be worth more than £200 million per year.
The South Ayrshire schools impressed the organisers with their approach.
Straiton Primary included the whole school role of 14 pupils for their junior beecraft exhibition which studied the impact bees had on the local environment, with Girvan Primary runners up in the same category.
The Carrick Academy Nature Club researched how bees supported the environment by pollinating plants, as well as investigating how honey and wax were produced by observing hives first-hand.
They sold the honey and used the wax to make candles which were also sold at parent evening events in the school.
Councillor Margaret Toner, South Ayrshire Council’s Portfolio Holder for Lifelong Learning said the awards were well deserved.
Mrs Toner said: “To have three schools recognised at a national awards ceremony is a major coup, which shows that South Ayrshire is leading the way in this area.
“The role of bees and the impact of a declining population is an important ecological issue and every attempt to understand the potential impact as part of the curriculum should be welcomed as a positive development.
“I’d like to congratulate the young people and the teachers for all their hard work in putting South Ayrshire on the map as an area which takes its education seriously and is actively seeking to raise awareness of this important issue.”
The awards complement wider work being carried out in the wider area.
Earlier this year Girvan, Ballantrae and Barr Primaries, along with Invergarven School, were chosen as part of 260 schools across the UK to take part in the ‘Polli:Nation’ programme, which aims to transform outdoor spaces to become pollinator-friendly habitats, with the support of the national school grounds charity, Learning through Landscapes.
To do this schools are encouraged to survey their patch using online resources, make improvements for pollinators on their patch and see how well it has worked measuring the impact the improvements have had.
This cross-curricula secondary and primary school project will give pupils direct hands-on experiences; from creating vertical green walls and night-blooming flower beds to lobbying to change school maintenance regimes and debating pesticide use.
The project hopes. to see an increase in the number and diversity of pollinating insect species in school grounds.