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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  • New Appointments within the National Bee Unit
    14 January 2022
    We are pleased to announce the temporary appointment of Dhonn Atkinson as the National Bee Inspector (NBI) whilst the current NBI Cristina Ruiz is on maternity leave. Dhonn has held a variety of roles across the National Bee Unit and Animal and Plant Health Agency where he held the role of Regional Bee Inspector for the North East of England.

    Following the retirement of Keith Morgan, Colin Pavey, and shortly Frank Gellatly and the temporary promotion of Sandra Gray, we are pleased to confirm the following movements and appointments:-

    Regional Bee Inspector for Western England – Jonathan Axe has been promoted from the role of Seasonal Bee Inspector.

    Regional Bee Inspector for Eastern England - Pete Davies, an experienced manager has moved from the Central England Region.

    Regional Bee Inspector for Central England - John Geden. John joins the National Bee Unit as an experienced bee farmer.

    Regional Bee Inspector for South East – Daniel Etheridge a seasonal bee inspector has been offered a temporary promotion to manage this area.

    Regional Bee Inspector for Wales – Maggie Gill has been promoted from the role of Seasonal Bee Inspector.

    Regional Bee Inspector for North East England – David Bough a seasonal bee inspector has been offered a temporary promotion to manage this area.

    For full up to date details please visit the contacts page
  • Seasonal Bee Inspector (SBI) vacancies
    21 December 2021
    The National Bee Unit currently has a Seasonal Bee Inspector (SBI) vacancy advertised in:

    East England: Norfolk.

    North East England: East Yorkshire

    Mid-South Wales: Swansea, Neath Port Talbot, Rhondda Cynon Taf, Merthyr Tydfil, South Pembrokeshire, West Carmarthenshire

    West England: South East Shropshire, South Staffordshire, North West Worcestershire

    If you are interested in applying for these jobs, full details can be found on Civil Service Jobs

    If you have any questions regarding the position, please contact the Regional Bee Inspector for the area.

    Closing date for application: 16th January 2022
  • Bee Health Advisory Forum - Science Advisor
    08 November 2021
    The Bee Health Advisory Forum brings Defra & Welsh Government policy and stakeholders together to discuss honey bee health issues and is inviting expressions of interest from applicants interested in being Bee Health Advisory Forum Science Advisors. The closing date for applications is Friday 17th December at 17:00.

    Full details about the role can be downloaded here and can be found on the Bee Health Advisory page. Please circulate to prospective advisors or feel free to apply.