Harvest Festival With a Twist by Jane Geddes.

Autumn colours.


Jane moving a hive.

Jane Geddes has been beekeeping for a number of years and lives on the edge of a grouse moor where the climate and weather make for challenging beekeeping. When the conditions down the hill a few miles are perfect for beekeeping in my apiary, Jane might not even attempt to open a hive.

With a background in midwifery education and public health promotion, Jane is ideally placed to engage with young people and share her enthusiasm for beekeeping. She jumped at the opportunity to help a beekeeping colleague with a presentation for teenagers at a local school.

This week, Jane shares an experience which links closely with Nairn & District Beekeeper’s Association’s main constitutional aim: To promote sustainable beekeeping through education and training. Our goals include encouraging beekeepers to use locally bred and adapted bees, and to consider available forage when siting apiaries and planning number of colonies to manage.

Harvest Festival.

The beekeeping station.

Last week, two members from our local association (Nairn & District Beekeeper’s Association) volunteered to attend a Harvest Festival at Nairn Academy. It was nothing like I remember the celebration of harvest festivals when I was young. Back then, we went to church, taking along a couple of tins of beans, jam, cakes, and flowers which were distributed afterwards to the community.

This Festival was centered around the Sustainable Development Goals (United Nations 2015). It focused on the growing of foods in a small- scale, inclusive way. The young people were encouraged to visit a variety of stalls, which included a local farm shop, a local jam producer, and supplies from a better- known food production company, in addition to our own beekeeping paraphernalia, and wild flower seeds provided by The Scottish Beekeeper’s Association. The aim of the festival was for the pupils to visit each stall and learn something from the items or products displayed.

Cubes of perpetual light. Photo by Alan McAteer.

Central to the idea of harvest festival was a Growing Cube, supplied by the Dandelion Programme 2022 https://dandelion.scot/programme/

This programme has been introduced to encourage people, young and old across Scotland to grow their own vegetables following the seasons. This has been achieved by the distribution of a Growing Cube, or pod to many schools. This 1-metre cube is a miniature transparent hydroponic growing box heated and supplied with LED lights. The cubes have been supplied with the understanding that they will be used to grow food to complement traditional growing methods combined with 21st century innovation. This was demonstrated on the day by the healthy growth of cress seeds, sunflowers sprouting within the school’s cube. 

During September, a number of harvest events took place as a way of celebrating autumn, highlighting sustainability and developing responsibility around food and growing your own.

Spiky ragwort pollen grains alongside broom.

It was interesting to watch the young people make the link between our own bee related display and the central concept. We had a fascinating display case of local pollinators, a station for viewing pollen down the microscope (spiky ragwort) and a frame of honey to smell. These items led for some very interesting questions and comments from the young people:

 “How does the queen stop the bees flying away?”  “How long does it take the bees to make that? (the frame of honey)”

“Is that a hive? Why are the boxes different sizes?”

“My auntie had bees, but they died and we didn’t know why”

“Ewww, I hate wasps”

However, despite the aversion to wasps, we were able to develop the link between pollinators/ pollination and the quality of fruit and vegetables at the other stands. For some it was a flying visit, however for other pupils, it appeared that fascination was an eye blink away. This was the ideal situation to harness that enthusiasm.

 Dandelion Programme (2022) Available at: https://dandelion.scot/programme/

United Nations, (2015). Transforming Our World. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Available from: https://sdgs.un.org/goals  [Accessed 27/09/2022]

Thank You.

Thank you, Jane, for your valuable contribution this week. A big thank you as well to everyone who has contributed articles to Beelistener; some more than one piece since 2019. It definitely improves the quality and diversity of topics.

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2 thoughts on “Harvest Festival With a Twist by Jane Geddes.”

  1. I enjoyed very much learning about the Harvest Festival at Nairn Academy. Thank you, too, for sharing some of the comments and questions from the young folks. Methinks, they are fortunate to see your displays.

    1. Than you so much! It’s good fun too- and rewarding when there are questions and discussion

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