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Kuranui course is the bee’s knees

Kuranui College students get into the beekeeping course that is part of the school’s innovative Inspire programme. PHOTOS/SUPPLIED

Greytown’s Kuranui College is all abuzz with its beekeeping course.

The course is part of the school’s innovative Inspire programme, which aims to provide the resources for students to have a go at something they may never have thought of previously.

Now in its second year, it was successfully introduced across all the school year groups after last year’s covid-19 lockdown.

Students are actively encouraged to learn new skills away from the classroom curriculum during two dedicated weekly sessions called ‘Inspire time’, providing them with the chance to connect with people, have fun, and learn new skills.

Year 12 student Joseph Laybourn was among 26 students signed up to this weekly taste of apiculture and getting stuck into the ‘honey pot’.

Joseph said he was initially intrigued by the course because he didn’t know much about beekeeping and because his family had often thought about putting in some hives at home.

“I saw it in the options and thought it looked really cool,” Joseph said.

“It could be a great opportunity. Some of last year’s students have gone on to do professional beekeeping, and they are now working in the industry.”

The beekeeping students look after four hives on-site, one owned by Kuranui science teacher Cheryl Iro, who leads the course, and the rest by a local beekeeper.

The beekeeper is an apiculture tutor at Otago Polytechnic and helps the community with their New Zealand Certificate in Apiculture [Level 3] on Saturdays at the college.

Iro said she was delighted students were enjoying this unique opportunity but was also highly aware of the health and safety aspect of dealing with bees.

“It’s great to give students this opportunity,” she said.

“It’s fun, but it is a little stressful. I put Joe in charge today, and I said to him he’s got to be very aware of safety.

“Sadly, we just can’t have students who are allergic to bee stings on this course.”

Fortunately, Joseph wasn’t in that category when a bee got through one of his gloves.

“I’ve only been stung once through a glove, but it didn’t really hurt too much,” he said.

“Luckily, I’m not too sensitive to stings.”

Joseph said he was appreciative of the opportunity to add beekeeping to his life skills.

“It’s great that we are able to learn about this kind of stuff in school, because if we didn’t have Inspire time, I wouldn’t have the opportunity to do this. I wouldn’t know it was available,” he said.

“We were looking to see if our bees had a certain disease – American foulbrood, which is a fatal bacterial disease of honeybee brood caused by the bacterium Paenibacillus larvae.

“That’s a really bad disease. If the bees get it, you have to burn all the hives basically, because it’s just so bad,” Joseph said when talking about some of the lessons he learnt on the programme.

Kuranui College principal Simon Fuller watches students extract honey during the school’s beekeeping course.

He also said that doing the programme had its due reward.

“We recently extracted the honey from the hives, being able to take some home to eat is really cool.”

Apiculture is one of New Zealand’s fastest growing industries and there is such high demand for expertise in this area that it is listed on Immigration NZ’s Immediate Skills Shortage List.

Other activities included in the school’s Inspire programme were CrossFit, Aviation, Latin, Spanish, Minecraft, and elite sports training.

Kuranui College will be opening its classrooms for the day to Year 8s on Wednesday, June 9, and the community on Wednesday, June 16, at 6pm.

  • For more information go to www.kuranuicollege.school.nz

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