Beekeeping courses in 2019/20 for beginners and improvers

1. The branch will be running another Beginners’ Course, starting in March 2020, for anyone interested in becoming a beekeeper. The course is being run by our Education Officer who is also a BBKA Master Beekeeper, Julie Coleman, and is now in its 15th successful year.

The theory part of the course will be taught over one weekend in  March (dates TBC) and covers all aspects of beekeeping for the beginner; there will be lectures, demonstrations, some practical tasks and a video. Weather permitting, we may also inspect some hives.

The course cost is £70, which will include the two classroom days and hands-on mentoring throughout the following season. Beesuits will be available for use on the practical session but course members will need to bring their own wellington boots and gloves – ‘Marigold’ or similar gloves are suitable. Delegates will need to bring a packed lunch as the format is for two whole days.

The fee for the course will also include a year’s membership of the British Beekeepers’ Association ( and the monthly magazine ‘BeeCraft’, as well as a year’s membership of the branch as a ‘Friend’. There will be an option for beginner beekeepers to buy a suitable starter nucleus of bees at a discount price once the course is completed and to be provided with a mentor to help with the first year of beekeeping, although many beginners prefer to continue learning on the branch hives for the first year rather than immediately getting their own bees. Anyone interested in the course should contact Julie Coleman in the first instance. A deposit of £10.00 is required, in advance.

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.

 2. The branch will be running a course designed for ‘Improvers‘ this autumn, ie those beekeepers who have a couple of years’ experience with their own hives. Details are as shown below. Venue is Herne Mill, tea, coffee and biscuits provided.

The cost will be £5 per session payable on the evening or £35 for all 8 ( bargain) payable by BACS  to the Whitstable and Herne Bay Beekeepers using your surname as the reference.

This is open to all members but those with a few years’ beekeeping will get the most out of the sessions. Topics are as follows although there can be some flexibility in this if there are special requests I’m sure I can accommodate.

Date Topics
29th October Record Keeping, Hygiene, reading the colony, planning for next season .  Demonstrations – Bailey comb change strong and weak colony.  Timing
5th November Swarming: reasons, prevention, management.  Demonstrations – Pagden, Demaree, Nuc, Taranov etc
12th November Varroa Biology, understanding the lifecycle.  Control with IPM.  Selecting colonies with varroa tolerance
19th November Preparation for winter to minimise losses.  Extraction – how much, varroa treatment – what when, Feeding autumn and spring – what when.
26th November Health, hygiene and disease prevention.  Healthy brood and unhealthy brood.  Diseases we are most likely to see and what to do.
3rd December Small scale queen rearing.  Selection of colonies, ways to generate queen cells and use of mini nucs.  Time scale for manipulations.  Demonstrations of Apideas.
10th December Who’s in charge.  Are we keepers of bees or losers of bees.  The bigger picture.  Discussion forum
17th December To be decided by mutual discussion

Email: contact Julie