Initial Beekeeper Training

Coronavirus: The lessons we had hoped to begin on 25th March 2020 have been postponed. All course members have been contacted and should refer to the email sent on 19 March for further advice.

Please read on if you’d like to know more about our course, and complete the form below if you’d like to join our waiting list for 2021.

The course

We expect our 2021 course to start towards the end of March, but dates are not yet available. We limit the number of students each year to around 20 to have a group which is small enough for everyone to know each other and this is also a safe and manageable number of people in our apiary in the practical 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 we meet at 7:00PM for a 7:15 start and continue for around two hours (with a tea break in the middle). The lessons will be held in or near  Fleet.

The lessons will cover all essential material to start you off as a beekeeper and 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 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. These sessions are part of the course and we encourage all students to attend as many as possible. We will 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 (our students have had 100% pass rate!).

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 2021 is expected to be around £140 (+£70 for a second person at the same address). For this, you get: the initial seven theory lessons; the practical training sessions in our apiary; three second year theory lessons; the ‘Haynes Bee Manual’,  and Full membership of our association in your first year. As a member, you’ll have access to lots of experienced and knowledgeable beekeepers at our monthly meetings and at weekly shop sessions on Friday evenings throughout the spring and summer.

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. When you decide to get some bees, the association may be able to supply bees from a swarm (but we cannot guarantee this) at around £20, or you can buy a (small) nucleus colony of bees from a commercial supplier at around £230 (2019 prices), or perhaps significantly 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 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; 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

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 are 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. 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 secondhand) – we can advise about what to get and what to avoid.

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