Our next Beekeeping for Beeginners’ course is now confirmed to start in March 2019. We usually have high demand and we limit the number of students to around 20 to have a group which is small enough for everyone to know each other and also that we have a safe and manageable number of people in our apiary when we begin practical training sessions.
Our beeginners’ training lasts for two years; and is intended to get you started – you’ll continue to learn for as long as you keep bees. It starts with seven theory lessons and the dates are now confirmed as Thursday 28th March 2019, then every Wednesday from 3rd April until 8th May, inclusive. These lessons will cover essential material to start you off. We usually start practical training sessions in our Aldershot Apiary in May (exact timing will depend on the weather but we try to get beeginners into the apiary as soon as we can). We will provide at least six practical training sessions (but in recent years have held many more than this) to get you used to handling bees and consolidate what you learned in the theory sessions, such as what to look for in a hive inspection. We also try to match each beeginner with a nearby experienced mentor to help you get started in your beekeeping career, and help and advise you with your own bees, when you get them.
At the start of your second year, we provide another three ‘advanced beeginners’ lessons to expand on some of the material covered in the first year. We’ll also support members who choose to take the Basic Assessment in the BBKA Certificate of Proficiency in Apiculture (in which our students have had 100% pass rate in recent years).
For more information about honey bees and starting as a beekeeper, have a look at this booklet published by the National Bee unit. We cover all this material and more on the course.
What will it cost?
The total cost of the course in 2018 was £140 (+£70 for a second person at the same address). For this, you get the initial seven lessons, at least six opportunities for practical training in our apiary, three second year lessons, the ‘Haynes Bee Manual’, and Full membership of our association in your first year.
You’ll also need a bee suit costing up to £120, and a hive can be from £150-£200 upwards. Essential tools, etc., will be under £50. The association can often supply bees from a swarm (but we cannot guarantee this) at around £20, or you can buy bees from a commercial supplier at around £230 (2018 prices), or perhaps less from other members. So budget £400-600 in your first year (more if buy bees from a commercial supplier). You don’t need to get bees in your first year . In your second year, you’ll probably want to buy another hive.
Costs from second year onwards may be typically around £30 membership plus £50ish for supplies, etc., (but hard to be precise), and you may want to buy some equipment for honey processing (~£50) – but you may be able to borrow some items from other members; the association has some honey extractors you can hire. If you (your bees) do well, you may even have some honey you can sell to offset costs – but don’t bank on this.
Come and meet us
At the time of writing (end July 2018), we are approaching the end of the beekeeping year but we’d be delighted if you’d like to join us as our guest at any, or all, of our monthly meetings where you can get to know us and ask more questions about the course or the association. These meetings are held in Fleet on the second Thursday evening each month from September onwards and you’ll be made very welcome. We can add you to our member database so you’ll get details of all our events and you can join the Fleet Beekeepers’ Facebook group. When you want to sign up for the course, let us know and we’ll let you know what to do.
Finally, we’d suggest you speak to us before buying any beekeeping equipment (new or secondhand) – we can advise about what to get and what to avoid.
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