PUPILS at a Northwood Hills school are buzzing with excitement after building a collection of bee hives.

Boys at St John's School, in Potter Street Hill, used spare land to construct four hives as part of a nature initiative. They have seen their first queen and 2,000 drones grow to an impressive 80,000 bees in just one year.

Students were particularly keen to take on their bee project after learning about Colony Collapse Disorder, a condition which causes workers to rapidly disappear from their colonies, and has begun to decimate the bee population.

The boys are also draining and extending a natural pond on the land, and filling it with native plants including yellow-flag irises and marsh marigolds. They hope it will be a suitable home for wildlife including great crested newts.

Head of science at the school, Chris Lawrence, said: "We used a natural area where there is already a nature trail and planted birches and other trees, which provide bees with pollen and nectar, with the help of the Woodland Trust.

"The boys are very keen on all the nature work they are doing, but particularly the hives, because they know that almost a third of colonies have been destroyed by this disease and they like the idea of putting bees back into the area. Last year we produced 120 jars of honey, which gave us a bit of cash to pay for the hives."