The Arts for Health and Wellbeing team at Cardiff and Vale UHB recently undertook a project focusing on bees with Llandough Primary School and artist, Nick Davies. Read her blog below:

“Having been involved with a combined arts/science project last year that focussed on the theme of ‘Bees’ I became completely mesmerised with this fascinating area of study and have come to recognise what a hugely rewarding area of research this is for devising educational concepts.  It can incorporate all age groups and cover topics such as: art. science, maths, environmentalism, botany, and invite a discussion into the migratory lives of bees, social and political aspects of these creatures.

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“I was invited by the Cardiff and Vale Health Board to develop an educational project that aims to forge links with a wider community through the ongoing development of an orchard at the Llandough Hospital site intended for patients, staff, and visitors in the promotion of well-being.  As part of the new build it is intended that an apiary will be installed at the location and members of NHS staff have already initiated activity relating to bee keeping and entomology.

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“In keeping with the wellbeing theme and linking with the installation of bee hives at the hospital site, I sought contact with the School of Pharmacology at Cardiff University, where current research is focussed on the medicinal properties of Manuka Honey.  (Namely: The Pharmabees Project).  It was this specific area of study connecting bee life with healing that would form a concept for a school programme of activities combining an arts project that would inform a more holistic view of positive wellbeing.  The proposed scheme would also acknowledge the partnership with the Arts Council of Wales and the NHS – Arts and Health action plan which fulfills the Well-being of Future Generations Act (2015) as laid out by the Welsh Assembly.

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“The Pharmabees Project Staff were incredibly generous in giving support to extend their outreach programme for schools with encouraging children to engage with the subject of science. A member of the university department came to the school to talk to the participating children about their Bee research relating to the healing properties of manuka honey and gave pupils the opportunity to view pollen from flowers that contribute to this strain of honey under a microscope.   (Dandelion, Bluebell and White Clover).  A subsequent visit to the beehives situated on  the department’s rooftop in Cardiff  was filmed and shown to the pupils on my return visit.  My programme was centred around the topics that the children had been introduced with and ranged from drawing activities titled  ‘becoming a bee’, the creation of wire bees, foraging in the school garden for pollinating flowers that were used for waste moulds using clay and plaster casts.  The class were split into specific beehive worker bee/male drone/queen bee roles and developed designs for the creation of tiles that would be situated in the outdoors area of the school and potentially for the hospital garden.   Through process led activities the group had the opportunity to explore drawing, poster design, building 3-d clay models, and the introduction to casting techniques.

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“I felt incredibly proud to have viewed independent research that the pupils had undertaken in relation to their specific bee species and how knowledgeable they were in their understanding of the healing and ecological issues relating to the subject.  I have encouraged students and staff to consider the development of a pollinating area in the school garden as well as documenting their experiences which would be shared with the rest of the school.   This project has been received very positively from the entire school, and it is my hope that through an intended visit to the hospital garden an opportunity might arise for promoting future intergenerational activities with Llandough Primary School and older age groups.

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“The examples of pupil’s project work and the topic of ‘Bees’ was adapted to share with an outpatient group at the MHSOP unit at Llandough hospital in the creation of tiles that would be placed in a relaxation area of a courtyard garden.  I focussed a short programme on reminiscence workshops with the introduction of bringing scented pollinating plants to touch and smell which were used as press moulds for casting.  The sessions were very productive and well received by participants. Designs were created by the groups as well as adapting the primary school students creations.”

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