Children from Cracoe and Rylstone Primary School have used a grant to establish a honey bee colony as well as wildflower and vegetable gardens.
They are looking after two hives – and are expecting to harvest honey from them this month – having last term taken an after school course in beekeeping with the Upper Wharfedale Field Society.
The project was made possible by a grant from the Swinden Quarry Natural Environment Fund, which is administered by the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority.
The fund was set up in 2020 after Swinden Quarry operator, Tarmac, got planning permission to extend the life of the large limestone quarry until 2039.
The children and their teacher described Swinden Quarry, which is located close to the school, as playing an ‘intimate’ part in their lives. See our latest blog post for the full story.
Teacher Glenda Cumberland said: “I’m passionate about outdoor education, so when I arrived three years ago I applied for a grant from the Mukherjee Trust and they gave us some money to get the pond at the centre of the garden, the apple and plum trees, and the first hive.
“Then we met some people who said, ‘We’ll teach you how to keep bees. And we’ll teach the children as well’. So we applied for the Swinden Quarry Natural Environment Fund grant and that allowed us – the children, myself and a grandparent and parent – to be trained up as beekeepers, buy a second hive and also buy more than 500 native plug plants for the wildflower garden.”
“Making this [area next to the school] as wild and beautiful as we can is really important when the quarry is so intimate with our life here.”
She added: “The Natural Environment Fund is really so, so easy to do. I would recommend it. It takes a small amount of time to apply.”
Member Champion for the Natural Environment at the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, Mark Corner, a beekeeper himself, said: “The project at Cracoe and Rylstone Primary School is fantastic. It hasn’t just led the children to learn about beekeeping and gardening, but has enhanced several other aspects of the curriculum, such as design and technology – as pupils needed to build the frames for the bee hives.
“I would invite individuals and community groups in the 13 parishes that surround the location of Swinden Quarry to apply for a grant. The Natural Environment Fund was set up to compensate for an extension of quarrying operations and enable local people to get involved in wildlife and conservation projects. Over time we hope to link different projects together and create a whole picture of landscape recovery around the quarry area.”
Stuart Wykes, director of land and natural resources at Tarmac, said: “Giving back to the areas in which we operate really is key for us as a business. We are committed to working with communities to reduce our impact on people who live nearby, and to play our part as an active member of our communities.
“We’re really pleased to see children from Cracoe and Rylstone Primary School have benefited from the funding in place.
“To be involved in this project where they’ll eventually be trained up as their very own beekeepers, looking after and harvesting two hives, alongside wildflower and vegetable gardens is truly fantastic. Bees are an important part of the ecosystem – often more important than people think.
“We contribute £30,000 to the Swinden Quarry Natural Environment Fund each year, and hope to hear about even more projects like this one, in the months to come.”
For details on how to apply to the Swinden Quarry Natural Environment Fund, visit the National Park Authority website, or call the Authority’s wildlife conservation team on 01756 751627.