Beginner's Practical Course
This nominally 14-week practical course builds upon what you have previously learned in our Beginner's Theory Course, and provides aspiring beekeepers with plenty of hands-on experience in handling bees. Commencing in April, through to the end of July, the period covers the natural build-up of a colony coming out of winter, the swarming season, and the main nectar flow in July. All the practical work is done outside within our own apiary grounds, where we have around 50 colonies. We encourage beginners to use this course to get used to handling bees before committing to the expense of bees, equipment and clothing.
Sessions run on Wednesday evenings (6:00pm to 8:30pm), or on Thursday mornings (10:30am to 1:00pm). By arrangement students may mix attendance of the two. The course will have a half-term break, so spans 15 weeks in total.
The course will cover:
- Handling of honeybees
- Lighting the smoker (and use of smoker fuels)
- Opening & inspecting the hive
- Signs that the colony is queen-right
- What to do if the queen is lost
- Swarm control & collection
- Over-wintering the colony
- Apiary hygiene & disease control
- We also touch on the subject of queen rearing
The content of any given session will depend upon the season and what the bees are doing at the time. Most of the course will be outside in the apiary, but classroom sessions will be used when the weather makes handling the bees not possible.
All protective clothing and equipment will be provided, however please:
- Wear clothing suitable for working outside; this to include long trousers.
- Bring wellington boots, or boots with socks into which trousers can be tucked. Please have a change of footwear for inside the classroom.
- Bring a pair of brand new Marigold (or equivalent brand) household gloves.
Students attending our practical course have the opportunity to buy a nucleus, or "nuc", of our beginner-friendly bees at a significantly discounted price. You may even look after your future nuc as part of your practical experience.
Please click here to download the course application form. Complete the form, then post it with your payment, to John Hamer’s address provided on the form. If close to the course start date, please bring the form and payment with you on the first day. Payment can be made by cheque (which is not banked until we know there are enough numbers for the course to take place), or bring cash on the first day. Please do not post cash!