Rentahive owner Murray Rixon shows a bee frame to (from
left) Rudolf Steiner School teacher Renee Crocker and
pupils Emily Bendall (9), Tomas Middleton (8), Zoe Barton
(9), Lucas-John Waldron (8) and Ruby Botica (8). Photo by
Being encouraged by your teacher to smoke on school
grounds is not your typical educational advice.
But when you are tending thousands of honey bees, as were
pupils at Dunedin's Rudolf Steiner School yesterday, it is
Year 4 pupils were given an opportunity to use a bee smoker
on a temporary hive, to calm the bees as Murray Rixon, of
Rentahive, transferred them to their new home on school
For Steiner pupil Ruby Botica, the experience gave her a
Despite being a little afraid of bees, she was one of five
pupils chosen to don bee suits and get up close to them.
''I know they won't sting me if I don't run around screaming
and waving my hands in the air.
''I'm safe in the suit. I feel like an astronaut or a giant
Teacher Renee Crocker said the new hive was set up in the
school's orchard as part of her class's farming study this
She said the Steiner curriculum gave equal importance to
nurturing the physical, emotional and intellectual aspects of
its pupils, requiring different learning experiences to be
brought to pupils at specific ages and times.
She said 8- and 9-year-olds had an increasing awareness of
themselves and their individuality, and the idea that a
lifespan was limited.
This often filled them with a desire to make a mark on the
world, to find their place and work hard towards a result
that is tangible and useful. Farming was one area that met
that need, she said.
With a growing awareness worldwide of a need to protect bee
populations, Steiner School executive officer Clare Ridout
said it was very pertinent the children got first-hand
experience of bees and the ''extraordinary organisation'' of
The school is one of several in the Dunedin area to rent
beehives from Rentahive in Mosgiel.
Although it was exciting to work closely with the bees, for
Ruby, the most exciting part was still to come. Having a
beehive on school grounds meant she and her fellow pupils
would be able to eat home-grown honey and make beeswax
candles later this year.
''I like all spreads, but I'm looking forward to having honey
on toast in a couple of months.''