Initial Beekeeper Training

Our 2021 course is fully subscribed and no more places are available. Please read on for more information and see below if you’d like to join our waiting list for 2022.

NB: The details below reflect how we’ve run our training over the last 10 years; however, please be aware that some details may change.

The course

We expect our next beginners’ course to start in the spring of 2022.

We usually deliver our theory lessons in March and April in (or near) 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 theory lessons and we meet on Wednesday evenings 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 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 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 provide 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 in 2022 likely to be around is £150 (+£80 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 up to £150, 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 £260 (2021 prices), or perhaps significantly less from other members. So budget £500-600 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 probably want to buy 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 bank 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 from September 2021 onwards 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. If you’d like to become an associate member (just £5), we’ll add you to our member database so you’ll get reminders of all our meetings and you can join the Association’s Facebook group.

Finally, 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? Please don’t (yet)

Whilst many are tempted to do so, we advise very strongly that you do not get (or even consider getting) honey bees until you know how to keep them safely and have appropriate support – they could very quickly become a nuisance and/or hazard, cause problems for you and other beekeepers and may not survive very long without the appropriate care.

Contact us

Please use the form below to register your interest in our course – anyone who is a member (Full – £27; Associate – £5 per annum) is welcome to join (and remain on) our course waiting list. Please confirm that you’d like to join and we’ll send you an invitation. If you already have bees, have previously kept bees (or helped someone else) or taken a beekeeping course, please mention this in your message. (This link describes how we handle your personal data.)

To ensure our emails will not go to your spam mailbox, please add to your safe senders list.

    Your Name

    Your Email

    Telephone number


    Your Message