SCHOOLGIRLS pulled on protective clothing to prise 'delectable' honey from handmade hives.

One year after building bee hives and introducing two starter colonies, students from Oxford High School have harvested jars of the sticky nectar from the school's grounds.

Young beekeepers in Years 10-13 made the hives with expert guidance from Paul Weeks, the school's lead apiarist, and chief science technician Kay Bell.

They set out on Thursday to carry out the second extraction, having already completed the first harvest in June.

Dr Weeks said: "It seems a long time since these student picked up a hammer and started building their first hive, but it’s great that they’ve got to the stage of harvesting honey of such wonderful quality.

"Oxford High School students are passionate about caring for the natural world around them - they know that bees not only pollinate our food crops, but are also vital for the survival of other wild plants that support so much of our wildlife.

"It''s another amazing example of the top quality of science engagement outside the formal curriculum that the school supports our students to do so well.

"That they produce something so delectable is a bonus."

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Students involved in the project have learned how to identify when the honey is ready for harvesting, and how to remove the relevant frames from the hives, gently brushing off any persistent bees.

Retreating to a bee-free space in the school, they then cut off the wax caps of the honeycomb with an uncapping knife, before spinning the frames in an extractor to remove the honey.

Filtering the honey through a fine sieve removes pieces of pollen and wax, and it can then be poured into jars, ready to eat.

The bee colonies were introduced last summer at the private school in Summertown, as part of a new extracurricular club called Go Apiary.

Led by the school's biology department, students spent Friday lunchtimes throughout that year creating hives in which to house the insects, and created special labels when the honey was ready.

The British Beekeepers' Association has encouraged more schools to set up apiaries on site, or welcome beekeepers in for visits, to 'share the magic and excitement of our craft.'

Its website, which also has a risk assessment to ensure pupils stay safe, states: "Outdoor learning can have a positive impact on behaviour and can stimulate, motivate and offer learning experiences that no classroom can offer.

"For those who are otherwise disengaged in the classroom, being outdoors can often see them flourish in an environment they feel comfortable in."