Becoming a beekeeper
Please read this article, and what’s below to see how we train new beekeepers. Complete the form at the end of the page to express your interest. Our 2023 course is filling up but you might get a place if you contact us soon.
The details below reflect how we’ve run our training over the last 10 years; however, we might make minor changes to the format.
Our 2023 beginners’ theory course will run each Wednesday evening from 22nd March to 26th April.
We will deliver our theory lessons in Fleet and we normally limit the number of students each year to around 20 so we have a group which is small enough for everyone to know each other and so we can run safe and manageable practical sessions in our apiary.
Our beeginners’ training lasts for two seasons and is intended to get you started – you’ll continue to learn for as long as you keep bees. The course starts with around six theory lessons, we meet on Wednesday evenings in Fleet at 7:00PM for a 7:15 start and continue for around two hours (with a tea break in the middle).
The lessons cover all essential knowledge to start you off as a beekeeper; we usually start practical training sessions in our training 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 aim to provide at least six practical training sessions (but in recent years have held more than this) to get you used to handling bees and to consolidate what you learned in the theory sessions, such as what to look for in a hive inspection and demonstrate the practical aspects of beekeeping. These sessions are an essential part of the course and we encourage all students to attend as many as possible. We will also try to match each beginner with a nearby experienced mentor to help you get started in your beekeeping career and help / advise you with your own bees when you get them.
At the start of your second year, we deliver another three ‘advanced beginners’ lessons to reinforce and expand on some of the material covered in the first year. We’ll also encourage, support and help prepare students who choose to take the Basic Assessment in the BBKA Certificate of Proficiency in Apiculture (our students have had 100% pass rate – most pass with Credit!).
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 much more on the course.
What will it cost?
The course fee is likely to be around is £150 (+£75 for a second person at the same address). For this, you get: the initial theory lessons; the ‘Haynes’ Bee Manual’; practical training sessions in our apiary; more theory lessons in the second year and Full membership of our association (and BBKA) in your first year. As a member, you’ll have access to and get to know lots of experienced and knowledgeable beekeepers at our monthly meetings and at weekly shop sessions (near Fleet) on Friday evenings throughout the spring and summer.
You’ll also need a bee suit costing around £150-£200, and a hive can be from £150-£250 upwards. Essential tools, etc., will be under £50. When you are ready to get bees, the association may be able to help (but we cannot guarantee this) at modest cost, or you can buy a (small) nucleus colony of bees from a commercial supplier at around £350, or perhaps significantly less from other members. So budget £500-700 in your first year (more if buy bees from a commercial supplier). You don’t need to get bees in your first year, but if you do, you’ll need to buy other equipment too and perhaps another hive in your second year.
Expect costs from second year onwards to be typically around £30 membership plus up to £50ish for supplies, etc., and you may want to buy some equipment for honey processing (~£50) – but you may be able to borrow some items from other members; and the association has some equipment for hire. If you (your bees) do well, you may even have some honey you can sell to offset costs – but don’t rely on this.
Come and meet us
We’d be delighted if you’d like to come along us as our guest to 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 will be held at the War Memorial Hall, Sandy Lane, Fleet, GU52 8LD on the second Thursday evening (7:45PM) each month (excluding June-August and December) you’ll be made very welcome.
we suggest you speak to us before buying any beekeeping equipment (new or second hand) – we can advise about what to get and what to avoid.
Thinking of getting bees before training?
Please don’t get bees unless you know how to care for them or have a competent mentor. Many are tempted to do this, but we advise very strongly that you don’t – they will very quickly become a nuisance and/or hazard, cause problems for you, your neighbours and other beekeepers and may not survive very long without the appropriate care.
Please use the form below to register your interest in our course; we’ll invite you to join as an Associate member (£5 per annum) and put you on the waiting list and you’ll get reminders of all our meetings and you can join the Association’s Facebook group.
Our 2023 course is filling up, but we might be able to offer you a place if you contact us promptly. .
Please let us know if you’ve already taken a beekeeping course, have previously kept bees (or helped someone else) or you already have bees (we hope you don’t).
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