Pupils at Gergask and Dalwhinnie Primary Schools were buzzing with excitement when “The Honey Man” came to visit them in March as part of the Crofting Connections programme.
David Johnstone, who has been keeping bees at Lynchat for over 40 years, came along in his beekeeper’s suit with a section of one of his beehives, some honeycomb, beeswax, a smoker and even some of his own delicious honey for the children to taste.
David also starred in a short film that was screened in the schools by filmmaker Helen Graham called “Hannah and the Honey Man” which features nine- year-old Hannah Robertson from Kingussie Primary School in the role of interviewer. The conversation between them about various aspects of bee keeping, honey production and pollination, as well the problems currently being experienced in bee colonies across the world, illustrates a real connection when an older person passes on his skills and knowledge, as well as his passion, to a young school girl who is keen and interested to learn.
These workshops were organised by Kingussie Food on Film working in partnership with Crofting Connections. Helen Graham and fellow committee member Jillian Robertson, who describes herself as an aspiring crofter, laid on an interactive quiz on bees and honey with slides and questions to get the children involved at the start of the workshops.
They then screened the film, which was followed by an introduction to “The Honey Man”. Children were encouraged to ask him questions and were able to handle and smell the equipment and samples he had brought along.
When oatcakes and honey were passed around to complete this five senses learning experience, even those who had been timid about trying honey for the first time decided to give it a go and agreed with their classmates that it was delicious. David was delighted to see the children so engaged with the whole process of beekeeping, and said that he hoped some of them might take it up themselves, particularly considering the importance of bees in remote communities, where they are more likely to stay free of disease and benefit from the wild landscapes.