Our association run two beginners beekeeping courses throughout the year. These courses will give the new beekeeper a good knowledge of both theory and practical aspects of beekeeping. Both courses have a limited number of places and are usually over subscribed. 

For more information on either course please contact James  at : james.mundye@btinternet.com

Winter Course – Finished

The 6-week Winter Course has now finished. Next course will start in February 2025 

Various beekeeping topics are covered by several speakers and include

  1. Honeybees and inside the hive.
  2. Equipment and getting started.
  3. Hives/frames/foundation and bee space.
  4. Honeybee pests and diseases.
  5. Honey and products of the hive.
  6. Beekeeping year.

Summer Course – NOW FULL

Course will commence on 12th May

Our training apiary in Sutton Park is the venue for participants to learn all the practical skills needed to look after a colony throughout the year. Our apiary has dedicated hives for beginners to handle throughout the season and these will be inspected weekly (weather permitting). Disease checks, swarm control, feeding, treatments, honey production and harvest are just a few of the subjects covered. We strongly recommend prospective beekeepers attend this course to gain practical experience in handling bees throughout season before obtaining bees.

The Association can provide beekeeping suits, hive tools and gloves to use during the practical course, although please bring along your own if you have one.

To give you an idea of what is included – It lasts for 17 weeks and below is the schedule for each week. Please bear in mind, this is a loose timetable, and is subject to change.

WeekMain subjectKey Elements
1Introduction & Welcome1. Welcome and introductions
2. Association & Membership
3. Health & Safety – Site rules
4. Being stung – First Aid, reactions & how to reduce the chance of being stung
5. Apiary walk around – different hives
6. Apiary cleanliness and hygiene
7. What makes a good apiary location – not becoming a nuisance to neighbours
2Setting up for an inspection1. Protective gear – cleanliness, fit for purpose
2. Strong smells – reaction to after shaves/perfumes/etc
3. Explanation of essential equipment – hive tool, smoker, nuc, etc
4. Making notes – importance
5. Frames – different types, wax foundation, making one up
6. Lighting a smoker
7. Reactions of bees to smoke
8. The reasons for opening a colony
9. Handling frames during manipulation and care required
3Opening a hive – presence of a fertile queen1. Parts of a hive, and best ways to open a hive
2. Reasons for opening a colony – recap
3. Understanding the castes of a honeybee
4. Basic bee biology – differences between drone, queen and workers
5. Basic account of the production of queens, workers and drones – and the stages of development
6. Basic account of wax production and comb building
4Choosing a hive1. Types of hives
2. Understanding the size differences – top bar, WBC, National, 14×12
3. If possible manipulate each one
5Opening a hive – check on the health of the colony and the expansion1. Tips on finding the queen – discussion around marking and clipping of queen – set up additional empty hive to demonstrate ways of finding the queen.
2. What does a healthy colony look like – brood pattern, food, number of bees, Spring expansion, plenty of room for the queen to lay
3. Proportion of workers/drones
4. Recognising problems in the hive – peppercorn pattern, laying rate, presence of eggs/larva and sealed brood
6Opening a hive – undertake any necessary swarm prevention measures1. Why does a colony swarm
2. Swarm control
3. Swarm prevention
4. Using empty hives/nucs – show ways of swarm prevention (artificial swarm)
5. Housing a swarm
7Opening a hive – check for any sign of disease either in the brood or adult bees1. Pests and diseases – identifying them and possible solutions
– American Foul Brood
– European Foul Brood
– Chalkbrood
– Sac Brood
– Nosema
– Acarine
– Tropilaelaps
– Small Hive Beetle
– Varroa
– Wax Moth
– Other pests – mice, wasps, woodpecker
8Opening a hive – check the colony has sufficient stores1. Importance of stores – how bees use nectar/pollen/propolis/water  – caste determination royal jelly
2. Types of feeder – advantages and disadvantages
3. Different types of food and when to use – 1:1, 2:1, spring stimulation, Bailey comb change, June gap, times of dearth, pollen cake
4. Making up sugar solution
9Opening a hive – check the colony has sufficient space for bees, for the queen to lay and for the bees to store honey1. Creating space – adding supers, space for queen.
2. Recap of swarm prevention
3. Forage available, understanding pollen and nectar coming in. OSR other local forage
4. Bee behaviour – waggle and round dance
5. Weather and its influence – both on forage and bees
10Identifying other issues in a hive1. Understanding the signs and causation of a queenless colony, and what can be done to resolve it.
2. The signs of laying workers and what causes them.
3. Signs and causes of a drone laying queen
4. Robbing – causes, prevention and symptoms
11Pests and diseases1. Recap of key pests and diseases
2. Integrated pest management
3. Different treatments – advantages and disadvantages eg varroa treatment
4. Importance of keeping records of treatments given.
12Beekeeping year1. Jobs of the beekeeper – each month
2. Equipment needed
3. Recap on swarm techniques and additional equipment needed
4. Times of year for treatment/cleaning
5. Forage
13Uniting a colony1. Reasons for uniting a colony
2. How to reunite a colony
3. Precautions to be taken when uniting
4. Introducing a queen
14Honey production1. Clearing supers of bees
– porter bee escapes
– brush method (risk of robbing)
2. Ripe honey – testing it, capped, 18%
3. Leaving some on for the bees
4. Extracting the honey harvest – basic equipment – types of extractor – essential kit
4. Uncapping frames
5. Filtering honey
6. Jarring honey – labelling
15Preparing for winter1. Essential jobs
2. Feed and checking weight of hive
3. Strong colonies going into winter
4. Unite?
5. Cleaning equipment & treatments
6. Correct storage of dry frames and supers
7. Plan for the next year
16Bee Alchemy & End of Course1. Uses for honey, beeswax and propolis
2. Including collection
3. Recap – any areas to be covered or questions

Other Beekeeping Course

We also offer training to existing beekeepers to improve both their knowledge and skills and prepare candidates for BBKA accredited exams. From the practical ‘Bee Basic’ accreditation to module study groups. From queen rearing at our training apiary, working as a team to learn for the BBKA Modules,  beekeeping husbandry and one of the newer courses available Bee health practical, we can provide a wealth of opportunities for our members.

For more information for existing beekeepers please contact Jitesh at: