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.