Kelso High School’s Golden Swarm to celebrate beekeeping in the Borders

Five young people stand in front of a bee aviary wearing green protective clothing, gloves and masks

Published: Thursday, 20th July 2017

Kelso High School is taking part in an exciting new project which will mark their move to a brand new school building this autumn, as well as celebrating and promoting beekeeping in the Borders.

Pupils have raised over £11,000 toward the project which will see the school’s Bee Club working with local primary schools and community members to create a unique and highly original piece of collective artwork.

The Golden Swarm

The Golden Swarm will consist of over 1,000 individually created clay golden bees, one for every participant, with each bee having been fired and painted gold to form part of the art overall installation. They will also contain a wish for the new school building.

The piece will be revealed at the opening of the new high school in the autumn where it will remain on display until spring 2018. It will then journey to its permanent home in the gardens of Floors Castle.

Be part of the project

To encourage as many people to take part as possible, pupils are taking a stand at the Border Union Show on Saturday 29 July. People will be able to find out more about the project and contribute to the Golden Swarm by making their own clay bee. They will also be entered into a prize draw to win a spectacular, hand-crafted nine carat solid gold bee standing on a silver honey comb, created by Kelso-based company, the Vision Dental Laboratory. 

Citizen science project

The Bee Club has also been undertaking a citizen science project to help them gather data from their apiary in relation to bee colony biology, health and productivity. Working with the support of the school’s scientist in residence, they have been exploring the use of Raspberry Pi, a computer programming learning tool, to support their research. They plan to share their findings with the wider beekeeping community.

Councillor Carol Hamilton, Executive Member for Children and Young People

“This project is a wonderful example of young people using their initiative and creative skills to produce a stunning piece of community art that will not only commemorate their move to their new school building, but also help to raise awareness of both the importance of beekeeping and develop environmental awareness in our region’s schools and local communities. Their citizen science research project is further evidence of their commitment to this issue and they are to be commended for all their efforts.

“I look forward to seeing the finished piece on display in the autumn but in the meantime would urge people to support these young people by visiting their stand at the Kelso showgrounds and being part of this inspirational project.”

Support from Roxburghe Estates

The project also marks a highly successful partnership between the school and Roxburghe Estates who have housed the Bee Club’s apiary in their grounds since it was established in 2014.

Roddy Jackson, Roxburghe Estates Factor

“This is a very creative and stimulating project by Kelso High School which I am sure will generate strong interest among pupils and inspire them to learn more about the ecology of bees and about beekeeping. Congratulations to the school on raising the funds required and we look forward to the arrival of the Golden Swarm in spring 2018. It will be a wonderful and captivating addition to the gardens.”

Support from local artists and the school

The creation of the artwork is also being supported by local artist, Robyn Kinsman-Blake and the High School’s Art Department and forms part of a wider plan for Kelso High, focusing on the development of environmental science and research skills for both teaching staff and pupils. This includes plans to dedicate outdoor space at the new school site to the development of a native orchard, outdoor learning areas, allotments and access to the apiary.

More information

  • Images are available from our Flickr page.
  • The project is funded by the Big Lottery Fund, Fallago Environment Fund, Ernest Cook Trust, Charity Begins at Home and Roxburghe Estates. Support has also been provided by the Vision Dental Laboratory, Kelso Pottery, Kinsman Blake Gallery, Borders Beekeepers Association and Borders Union Agricultural Society.
  • More information about the use of the Raspberry Pi in education settings is available from their website
  • The new £22.5m Kelso High is due to be completed later this year, and will have extensive sport facilities for students and the community to use as well as an eco-garden pond, orchard, allotment, outdoor classroom and arts and craft garden.
  • The school is being funded by the Scottish Government through the Scottish Futures Trust. It is being developed in partnership with Hub South East Scotland and its appointed contractor Morrison Construction.