There's a swarm of excitement at Warrawong High School with the introduction of about 50,000 stingless native bees to their outdoor classroom.
Instead of just opening a book or a laptop to learn about ecosystems, the students step out into their living classroom.
Head teacher of science Katherine Elphick said the classroom replicates parts of the wider ecosystem so students can see how all the parts interact.
"This project is helping our students learn about the recent decline of bee populations globally but it's importantly also giving them the chance to make a positive sustainable change in our own school environment and permaculture garden to help reverse this issue," she said in a statement.
With a grant by NSW Ports the school purchased five colonies of bees, hives, native plants, and funded education workshops. The school is one of 17 groups to receive funds in the NSW Ports 2022 Community Grants program.
The school has welcomed five colonies of the Trigona Cabonaria native stingless bees which have a range of 500 metres.
In the lead up to the arrival of the native bees, Year 7 students learned about the role they play in the Illawarra ecosystem.
Kaysha Tome said they set up the five hives across the garden so they can pollinate the surrounding plants.
"They can memorise where their hive is, and then eventually go and pollinate," she said.
"The permaculture garden is really going to grow and look a lot nicer because of all the plants we're using and [with them] all being pollinated, I feel like it's going to look a lot better over time."
The class also learnt about the threats native bees face due to deforestation and natural disasters.
Reintroducing the native bees to the area is a form of restoration, permaculture teacher Aaron Sorensen said.
"The values of our students here is to care for the land, to care for Country and part of how we care for Country at Warrawong High is the reestablishment of the Berkeley Brush which is an endangered plant community," he said.
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