Training

So… you are thinking of taking up beekeeping and live in the North Cotswold’s area!

Please make contact with us, using the contact form, and we will be very glad to discuss your interest and whether beekeeping might be right for you.

Beekeeping is a wonderful pastime for some, and career for others, but it doesn’t suit everyone. Before you commit to a hive or invest in equipment, we believe the most important message at this point is ‘don’t jump in too early’. To help you decide whether beekeeping is for you, we can offer the opportunity to shadow an experienced member of our association. This will provide you with a practical insight into the sometimes daunting demands of beekeeping, including how it feels to work with tens of thousands of bees at the peak of the summer season. Simply by becoming a member of the NCBKA, you will have access to basic hands-on experience of handling and being around bees before you decide whether or not beekeeping is for you. The most important lesson to learn at the outset is that bees are not pets! They can and often do sting, especially if not treated with knowledge, respect and gentle handling. These skills only come with basic understanding and experience. 

Bees are classed as livestock and beekeepers must ensure they are looked after with due care and consideration to help with their ongoing development and survival. 

Alternatives to beekeeping: 

  • If you are interested in sourcing local honey perhaps without the cost and commitment required in caring for a colony, please get in touch and we may be able to put you in touch with a beekeeper, local to you, who would be glad to supply you. 
  • If your objective is to help all pollinators, consider planting pollinator friendly plants in your garden. Honeybees are not an endangered species but there are many other bees that are, including bumblebees and many species of solitary bee. Overall, it is important to create sustainable pollinator habitats.

If, however, you have a genuine interest in becoming a beekeeper, please read on for the training programs currently available within the Association. In particular, mentoring is the perfect starting point to give you an insight into the craft of beekeeping. 

Importantly, membership of the BBKA, via our NCBKA, will give you access to a mentor, our local WhatsApp support group and to a wide range of BBKA materials (a monthly magazine and on-line resources); provide you with insurance for your hives; and, finally, ensure that your hives are registered, should there be serious bee disease in your locality.

We have split our training offer into three broad groups, depending on your level of experience. 

Group 1 – New to beekeeping / inexperienced bee keepers

This group will be offered the opportunity to shadow a mentor at one or more of the mentors’ apiaries to get some hands-on experience, starting with the basic principles of keeping bees. The exact offer will be adjusted to meet the needs of those that apply, in any particular year; and will depend on numbers and individual experience, including whether an individual already has their own bees.

Although this group will be tailored as required, it will incorporate a weekly inspection of the mentor’s hives as a core offer. It will also deal with routine seasonal situations such as swarm control and queen management / replacement. It will follow on through the entire beekeeping season to include harvesting honey, varroa mite treatment and preparing bees for the winter.

This group’s meetings will be scheduled on a week day evening but may change as required to fit in with favourable weather conditions for inspecting bees.

Group 2 – Existing beekeepers seeking to improve knowledge and understanding

This group is aimed at those beekeepers with one to two seasons experience, but there will be no restriction if others wish to join. 

Depending on numbers, we anticipate offering a fortnightly in-season meeting to include aspects of beekeeping practice addressed in Group 1 plus visits to a number of different apiaries. In addition, tailored in-season presentations will be provided by a more experienced beekeeper on topics such as disease recognition / swarm control / basic queen rearing.

This is designed to develop your understanding and knowledge to allow you to move on to Group 3 should you so wish. 

Group 3 – training for the Basic BBKA exam.

The club is very lucky to have a very experienced bee keeper, trainer and examiner (Ian James), who has successfully trained many members of both the NCBKA and other associations on the BBKA Basic exam, over many years. We hope and expect this to continue during 2022. Ian’s training has always been very well received so, if you are interested, please speak to some of the many members who have taken this course. Both

Julia and Malcolm will be actively promoting the 2022 course, taking names and keeping you informed of dates etc., closer to the time.

If you would like to discuss any of the above please send a message by text to the Association Training Coordinator Malcolm Hughes on 07973 730288. Malcolm will then be in contact with you to discuss and develop your interest further.