THE future of the humble honey bee is set to become that little bit sweeter thanks to an initiative by Skipton Girls' High School.

Students have been taking part in beekeeping as a fun and interesting project which will also have a positive impact on the environment and its biodiversity.

The school also aims to build on its success as an Eco-School while enriching its curricula from biology to photography.

Students have been discovering how honey bee populations have been in decline for decades and are now kept going through human intervention.

Those involved in the initiative also learned that the honey bee contributes around £750 million each year to the UK's agriculture economy. It is said that about one third of everything you eat can be traced back to pollination by honeybees.

The bee is under threat from diseases and lack of natural habitats due to industrialisation of farming.

Over the half term the Beekeeping Club has been busy constructing hives and preparing an apiary.

They are now caring for two colonies of European honey bees (Apis mellifera).

Their job is to perform occasional hive checks to monitor colony health and growth.

As the hives mature the students are looking forwards to making honey and wax-based products in the near future while working with other schools to share their passion for learning.

The students will also collaborate with an academic partner to carry out scientific investigations into bees.

One such investigation was discovering how the scout bees communicate with others at the hive through a specific "waggle" dance which pinpoints a good nectar source.

The dance provides information such as the direction and distance to the source.

The school has been helped by the Wharfedale Beekeepers Association through mentoring and financial support. Skipton Mechanics' Institute also made a generous donation of £1,000.

Robert Bellfield, Skipton Mechanics’ Institute: The Skipton Mechanics’ Institute is delighted to financially support this important educational and environmental initiative with a grant of £1,000.

Peter Longbottom, president of Wharfedale Beekeeping Association said: "We are proud to have been mentors and contributors to the introduction of bees and beekeeping to Skipton Girls’ High School. This was in furtherance of British BKA's initiative to introduce beekeeping to secondary education.

"WBKA have been at the forefront of beekeeping advancement in the area for over 70 years. There is much biology, botany and technology in beekeeping, and it is fantastic that young people are being given an introduction to the craft."

Robert Bellfield added: "The Skipton Mechanics’ Institute is delighted to financially support this important educational and environmental initiative."

Jordon Clarke, the teacher leading the initiative at the school said: "With no previous experience in beekeeping myself, I hope that I have acted as a role model for students.

"I think it’s important that students learn the value of scholarship, of being adventurous, and of collaboration with others. That combination has so far led to excitement, enjoyment, and intrigue for all involved."

The students themselves said they learned a lot from the experience, particularly of the complexity and vulnerability of the bees and how they are important to the eco system and production of food.

They also described the experience as "fascinating" and "fun".