Beekeeping courses in 2022

BeginnersCourse for 2022

Beekeeper mentoring trainees at a hive
David, standing ready with the hive tool.

This branch runs a Beginners’ Course each year in the Spring. The aim is both to introduce anyone interested to what is involved in good beekeeping and also to provide more information about honey bees and beekeeping for those interested in knowing more, even if they don’t currently wish to become a beekeeper.

For 2022 we have re-designed our course so that there are three separate Stages – beekeeping is not necessarily for everyone and our new course structure accommodates both categories of learner outlined above. To attend Stage 2 you must have completed Stage 1, and for Stage 3 you will need to have completed both Stage 1 and Stage 2. This may seem cumbersome to someone who just wants to ‘get started’ but honey bees are classed as livestock and the members of this branch wish to recognise the responsibilities of beekeepers, to the bees and to the people involved (including a beekeeper’s neighbours!).

Stage 1 consists of a weekend (5 & 6 March 2022, 10:00 to 16:00 hrs) of talks, presentations, and discussions on the theory of beekeeping, together with a practical Taster session on 30th April (subject to suitable weather) where course participants will be encouraged to view and take part in a colony inspection, under the supervision of experienced beekeepers. Our course tutor for the theory weekend will be Julie Coleman, a member of the branch and a BBKA Master Beekeeper with more than 20 years’ experience of bees and beekeeping.

Stage 2 is for those who know they wish to become beekeepers and will involve five practical handling sessions, carried out once a month on Saturdays between May and September 2022, which participants will be expected to attend and where they will start to learn the practical skills of beekeeping, handling the bees, and ‘reading’ a hive. This will be carried out in one of our local teaching apiaries under the supervision of experienced mentor beekeepers. For those who wish to continue on to this stage there will also be the opportunity to become a Friend of the branch and attend the monthly meetings open to all branch members that we hold during the active beekeeping season in spring and summer.

Stage 3 will take place in 2023 for those who have completed Stages 1 and 2 in 2022 and will involve assessing participants’ readiness to take on a colony of their own. The branch aims to provide you with a starter colony of bees at less than commercial rates and to provide advice on the type of hive you will need to purchase at that time to provide a home for your starter colony.

The branch will lend each participant of the Stage 1 Taster session some protective clothing for the occasion, with each participant bringing their own suitable footwear and gloves (advice will be given on this but there will be no need for expensive purchases). Participants on Stages 2 and 3 will be expected to have purchased their own protective clothing, for which we will provide a list of suppliers and costs.

Further details of the course across the three stages are available in the course information sheets, which also include our Health & Safety and other expectations.

The fee for Stage 1 is £95.00 and will include the supply of a text book. The fee for Stage 2 is £50.00 and will include the cost of becoming a Friend of the branch for the year ending September 2022. The cost of Stage 3 will be in line with the previous stages and will be notified later during this year. Please note that signing up for one Stage will not of itself commit you to pay for or participate in the next following Stage of the course.

Anyone interested in the course should contact Julie Coleman in the first instance (see email link below). A deposit of £10.00 is required, to be paid at least 14 days before the theory weekend.

Please note that it is not necessary (or a good idea) to buy hives and equipment before attending the course. There are several different types of hive and what you work with will be affected by your situation and by the strain of bees that you start with. You will have plenty of opportunity to talk through what would be the best hive for yourself and your bees during and after the course.

NB Days and times of sessions are subject to change dependent on regulations and guidance about the conditions under which people meet with others outside their household during the Covid pandemic.

Email: contact Julie