Starting out as a beekeeper is quite daunting, what do I do, can I do it, should I do it, wish I had not done it…

 

It is wonderful to have a mentor but impractical for a mentor to be available every time a hive is opened. And of course experience is a wonderful thing along with hindsight as most beekeepers will tell you at some point.

As the seasons roll around, we rotate from Spring start up, examination of colony, swarm season, oil seed rape harvesting, june gap, summer build up, summer extraction, further disease check, treatment, stores check, feeding, protection from vermin, further possible treatment, to preparation for spring etc.

Goodness, so much going on in and outside the hives, thus it is important that new beekeepers are aware of the general routine and method of dealing with the unexpected. 

There are numerous books, websites (the BBKA and others) to view for written advice, chat lines and practical demonstrations. But one ideal method of learning about the year holistically is to access the Basic Assessment.

The aim of the syllabus is “to provide new beekeepers with a goal which will give them a measure of their achievement in the basic skills and knowledge of the craft. It is hoped it will be a springboard from which to launch into the more demanding assessments“

Rugby Beekeepers Branch run the annual study group when there is enough interest, and the BBKA now run a correspondance course for £60 .

The syllabus in itself may seem daunting at first glance but the principles are actually just lists of information that each beekeeper needs to know.

If you are taking the study group approach, the syllabus is slowly worked through with an experience beekeeper (in a group situation) typically every few weeks, meeting possibly at each other's houses, this ensures it is not in anyway stressful or frightening but in a comfortable easy learning situation amongst friends where information is easily cascaded down.

The candidates need to have been keeping bees for at least one full year so they have experienced each season.

The assessment generally takes place at a local apiary and consists of oral and practical assessments approximately of one hour duration. There is no written component to the assessment.

Should you wish to consider embarking on this course as part of a study group, please contact the Branch secretary or the Educational secretary, there is a fee associated with the course, payable to the BBKA.

If you are interested in the correspondance couse, please follow the details included on the enrollment form and return it to the BBKA

There is a recommended reading list to view. You may wish to buy an odd book for your own bee keeping library, but the branch has a library and you are welcome to loan books for a 2-4 week period depending upon demand. The local library equally holds a few books on beekeeping.

Once the Basic Assessment is completed the beekeeper is able to embark on other modules/courses run by the BBKA. These course are more specifically associated with certain areas of beekeeping and in greater depth. The further Modules do not necessarily have to be taken in any order but there is a general theme that runs from module 1 to module 8. There is also a microscopy course that can be accessed after the Basic Assessment.

You will find further details about the BBKA basic assessment on their website.


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  • Julian Parker – Head of APHA’s National Bee Unit.
    23 November 2020
    Following a recent recruitment process Julian Parker has been appointed as Head of the National Bee Unit (NBU) within Defra’s Animal and Plant Health Agency. Within the NBU Julian has previously been Acting Head as well as National Bee Inspector and before that Regional Bee Inspector for Southern and South East Regions. Julian has over 12 years operational experience with the NBU including leading outbreak situations. Julian is also well known in the wider beekeeping community and his expertise is highly respected across Defra and Welsh Government as well as with Bee Health stakeholders. He has also played a key role in the review of the 2020 Healthy Bees Plan and will now play a significant role in delivering the Healthy Bee Plan 2030. Many congratulations Julian.
  • Email issues
    16 November 2020
    If you have sent an email to nbu@apha.gov.uk between the 10th November and the 16th November, due to a system failure your message has not been received. Please resend your messages, we apologise for the inconvenience.
  • Healthy Bees Plan 2030 Published
    03 November 2020
    Defra, Welsh Government and the National Bee Unit have worked with stakeholders to produce a review of progress made under the Healthy Bees Plan, a ten-year plan introduced in 2009 to improve honey bee health across England and Wales. Following this review, a new plan entitled the Healthy Bees Plan 2030 has been published today to carry on this important work.

    Welcoming the new plan, Nicola Spence, Deputy Director for Plant and Bee Health at Defra, said:

    I am delighted that today we are publishing the Healthy Bees Plan 2030 which is Defra’s and Welsh Government’s joint framework for continued action to improve honey bee health in England and Wales over the next ten years. Protecting our honey bees is vital because of the benefits they bring through pollination of flowers and crops, honey production and our well-being. Bee health stakeholders have had a key role in developing this new Healthy Bees Plan and we look forward to continuing to work together as we implement the plan.

    Ceri Witchard, Deputy Director for Land, Nature and Forestry at Welsh Government, said:

    The Healthy Bees Plan 2009 was published with the aim of achieving a sustainable and healthy population of honey bees for pollination and honey production in Wales and England. Our overall aim has not changed. However, the experiences we have gained and the relationships we have built within the Bee Health Advisory Forum now put us in a firmer position to face new risks and challenges to honey bees. I am grateful to the Forum and other stakeholders for their commitment and contributions in developing the Healthy Bees Plan 2030.