PUPILS from across the North Pennines were busy as bees while learning lessons in helping to protect the endangered pollinators.

Youngsters from primary schools in Forest-of-Teesdale, Rookhope, Stanhope and Brough have spent the last year learning about the plight of bumblebees and taking steps to help them thrive.

The initiative is part of the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) Partnership’s Nectarworks programme, a three-year Heritage Lottery Funded project created to enthuse, educate and enable communities to help bees by restoring and creating flower-rich habitats throughout the area.

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Children from the four schools undertook educational activities such as making foods with ingredients that rely on pollination, looking at bee life-cycles, creating art and establishing their own nectar gardens.

Mandy Oliver, Nectarworks community officer, said: “There is something about bees that captures children’s imaginations.

“They’ve been very enthusiastic and have really enjoyed learning about them.

“One of the major things we teach the children is how important bees are for the production of a lot of our food.

"They understand when you tell them that without bees we wouldn’t be able to grow tomatoes and strawberries, but when you transfer that to not being able to have tomato ketchup and strawberry ice-cream, it really brings it home.”