Creating a buzz in Claremorris


THE BEE’S KNEES Students Elizabeth Byne and Aoibheann Mangan, creators of The Hive, receiving their awards from Sheila Porter, founder and CEO of Scifest, and Aine Kerr, entrepreneur and broadcaster.

Ciara Moynihan

The pandemic gave rise to a host of new hobbies as people sought to distract themselves and fill time in new ways. Everything from wild-food foraging to bird spotting took off, and kitchen countertops were overflowing with banana bread and sourdough. Some of these hobbies went by the wayside as the days wore on and ‘normal’ life slowly returned.  
Not all though. Among the hobbies still on the rise is beekeeping. With our delicate alliance with bees so important to our continued life on this planet, many saw raising bees and helping increase their numbers was a way of injecting a little bit of positivity into a world of chaos and destruction.
However, starting out on such a project can be daunting. It’s not a matter of getting a few hives and off you go. There’s an art to it if you want to succeed and ultimately reap the golden reward of honey from your very own apiary.
Two teenagers from Mount Saint Michael Secondary School in Claremorris became aware of this, and were determined to do something about it. Elizabeth Byrne and Aoibheann Mangan’s efforts paid off, and they have produced an app and beehive-monitoring system that helps people start beekeeping and monitor the health of their beehive.  Now the pair’s amazing project has been recognised at the recent Teen Turn SciFest.
Elizabeth and Aoibheann’s project won of the Technology Hardware category, and the students were also overall runners-up of the prestigious national competition, which promoting STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects in education. Their project, ‘The Hive’, was one of 47 exhibiting at the event in Dublin, which featured 13 projects from the Claremorris school.
The girls’ educational app has practical applications for beekeepers, drawing on knowledge gleaned through firsthand experience.
“I am a beekeeper,” Elizabeth explained, “and one of the things I am always being asked is how do you get into beekeeping, I wanted to make this app to help people understand and learn about beekeeping as a way of encouraging and supporting new people to get into beekeeping.”
As well as creating an app with key areas on how to go beekeeping and the importance of bees in the environment, the students linked up practical features.
“We designed and printed our own 3D-printed case,” Aoibheann said, “that attaches safely to a hive so as not to interfere with the bees but allowing users of our app to monitor on their app the temperature and humidity of the beehive, and a camera view of the entrance to the hive to monitor activity and capture any signs of disease entering the hive.”
Elizabeth and Aoibheann worked on their app at Project Squad, Teen Turns’ after-school offering, which takes place in Mount Saint Michael every Thursday afternoon. Teen Turn is an Irish nonprofit organisation that provides teen girls the opportunity to gain hands-on STEM experience and the support to acquire qualifications and jobs, with a particular emphasis on underserved communities.
Lead mentor and teacher in Mount Saint Michael, Stephanie Hogan, and Teen Turns’ online mentors worked with the girls through stages of the project that saw them engaged in research, development, prototyping and testing. Through visits to ATU (Atlantic Technological University ) in Galway, where Teen Turn linked up with Carine Garchon, Head of the Transcend programme and her team in the Engineering Department, the girls were able to get their 3D design printed for adding to a beehive.
With Elizabeth’s beehive to ‘test out the goods’ the girls were able to modify their designs until they were happy with their final design, tweaking it until it was perfect. It is not surprising their efforts have created such a buzz, and no doubt many more would-be beekeepers will be encouraged to take the plunge and discover the joys of hive life.

Did you know?
• Of the 99 species of bee in Ireland, only one native honey bee exists: a sub-species called Apis mellifera mellifera
• The average jar of honey requires bees to fly the equivalent of over twice around the world
• The buzz of a bee is made by its wings flapping 200 times per second