Corinda's hive of activity

Corinda's hive of activity


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Club members Mitchell May, Matthew Guevarra-Adams, Imogene Davidson and Anna Heckenberg proudly display their product and a frame of Corinda honey.

Club members Mitchell May, Matthew Guevarra-Adams, Imogene Davidson and Anna Heckenberg proudly display their product and a frame of Corinda honey.

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ONE brave group of students at Corinda State High School is tackling bee population decline head-on with a new agribusiness initiative.

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ONE brave group of students at Corinda State High School is tackling bee population decline head-on with a new agribusiness initiative.

The thriving agricultural section at the suburban Brisbane school is a hive of activity with the school year kicking off with a special project.

Situated just 15 kilometres from the city centre, the fully functioning farm enables students not only to tend to their growing bee colonies, but to plant and grow commercial vegetable crops and farm animals such as poultry, sheep, cattle, ponies and alpacas.

Bees are just one of the many exciting opportunities for students to gain innovative and hands-on learning skills at the school which form the basis for them to potentially enter the agricultural workforce.

The school has faced many challenges over the years, most recently in 2011 when flash flooding caused the established bee hives to be washed into the Oxley Creek.

Starting from scratch was a challenge for both staff and students who committed their time and effort to building their current colonies, which include six hives and a special honey processing room.

"We really want to show people that agriculture is still relevant."

Students eagerly show up to school to extract honey and bottle the deliciously sweet golden nectar from the hives - even selling them for special events like Valentine's Day in February alongside roses.

The wider student community is also involved in the agricultural sector to help package the small jars for sale to staff and the public through the front office.

Corinda State High School agriculture teacher Christopher Butcher said the ongoing challenge for students and staff was to show others that agriculture was still a sector with a bright future.

"We really want to show people that agriculture is still relevant," Mr Butcher said.

"A dedicated group of students have formed up a group which they have named the 'ABC - The Agricultural Business Club'."

Meeting at lunchtime, the students brainstorm and develop ideas to come up with exciting and unique products from ingredients produced at the agricultural section.

"In no small measure, the Agricultural Business Club has helped class-mates think differently about agriculture and the exciting opportunities for value-adding for those with imagination, a keenness to work up ideas into a business model and a willingness to knuckle down and work hard."

Year 10 student and bee club member Mitchell May said he loved being involved in the Corinda agriculture section - not only learning about how to run a farm but to also share the knowledge with his classmates.

"Agri-business shows how being associated with farming can lead to money making and a productive business," Mitchell said.

"At school, it has also allowed us to come closer together as friends and create a fulfilling product."

Mr Butcher said students from other agriculture classes had the chance to get involved with the bees, building frames and setting wax to update the existing hives.

"Although the boxes were recycled after the flood, they just need a bit of fixing and the children have been doing a great job on them.

"The kids really seem to love the bees and are quite fascinated by how they communicate, travel, carry pollen and process nectar to make honey."

"At school, it has also allowed us to come closer together as friends and create a fulfilling product."

The whole process is designed to show students how even the smallest creature, bees in particular, can be integral to a larger farming operation.

"Technically a box can produce 50kg of honey per year but that's all very dependent on the weather and the availability of natural food sources," Mr Butcher said.

"It's the whole concept and I think the students get a real kick out of being able to see the whole process at work."

While the honey season has begun to wind down at Corinda, the students will spend the next few weeks preparing the hives for winter.

"We will do a final collection of honey shortly and then leave them over the cooler months before starting back again in September.

"We won't be robbing the hives to extract any honey but we will be checking in on them to make sure they're okay," Mr Butcher said.

In an initiative that reflects the community integration of the school, the Ipswich and West Moreton Beekeepers Association will hold a hands-on field day on Sunday, April 19 to work with the students on their hives.

"We've done a lot of work with the association and it will be great to have them here to show the students more about the industry."

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